14 Feb

Creation is God playing Hide and Seek with herself.

She knows herself.

And now she doesn’t.

She becomes the role.

Then remembers she’s the actor.

Milk Milk Lemonade is that sort of exuberant game. Director Melita Rowston’s production of Josh Conkel’s play is superb.

‘Do you mind if I take off my shoes? I can’t dance in them,’ says Emory, played brilliantly by Mark Dessaix. It’s a poignant moment, a moving symbol of liberation. Yet it’s said by a young boy play acting he’s an older girl at her high school prom.

Hide and Seek.

Towering over this production is a giant chicken, designer Antoinette Barbouttis’ ingenious way of presenting the processing plant that dominates the poultry farm where the play is set. Chain smoking Nanna, played by Pete Nettell with a wonderfully larger than life small mindedness, tells Emory that it’s the chicken’s role to be eaten.

And there’s that enormous chicken – an ominous warning. Whatever roles we choose to play, we can’t let others decide them for us.

And Linda the Chicken, played by Sarah Easterman, fights the role Nanna gives her, delivering a beautiful hard-boiled-in-ya-face stand up routine, one of the many crazy elements in this joyous play.

Keiran Foster as Elliot, Emory’s love interest, gives an energetic jack in the box performance. Elliot is painfully trying to push his burgeoning sexuality back into a more conventional box, only to have it explode out again.

We’re not all of one piece, and to underline the point, Conkel gives Elliot an evil parasitic twin, played to kooky perfection by Leah Donovan. “Punch the faggot” the twin says to Elliot.

At another moment Donovan is Starlene, Emory’s doll, forbidden to the boy by narrow minded Nanna.  And it’s Donovan’s performance, as Starlene, of I’ve been to Paradise (but I’ve never been to me) that sums up the play.

It’s a performance that’s deliciously subversive. It asks ‘What – exactly – is a genuine life’?

We play roles. We forget we play roles. We remember. That is the glorious game of life.

And everyone should be allowed to join in.

Veronica Kaye


New Theatre til 2 March

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