MILKMILKLEMONADE by Joshua Conkel (West Coast Premiere) – Los Angeles Theater Review

by Harvey Perr on August 31, 2010

in Theater-Los Angeles

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MilkMilkLemonade is the sweetest – and most incendiary – gay love story this reviewer has ever seen. It is the story of a couple of children – Emory, who wants to be a girl, and Elliot, a bully who torments Emory but who, of course, really likes him and maybe even loves him. Simple stuff, to be sure, but the feelings it engenders are quite complex. Joshua Conkel’s deliciously droll play could have become cloyingly whimsical – peopled, as it is, by, among others, a chicken whose clucking needs an interpreter and a tarantula who speaks Ebonics, and taking place on a crayon-colored set that, at first, seems just too cute for words – if it weren’t for the shrewdly savvy direction of Matthew Elkins and the wonderful cast of brilliant farceurs (who also happen to be pretty brilliant actors, period!) who drive the play through its many permutations with comic charm and incisive delicacy. I mention them all here – Tracie Lockwood (the tarantula is just one of the characters she so fancifully gives her all to), Sharron Shayne (Linda, the funniest and most touching chicken imaginable), Hollace Starr (a grandma with an agenda), Andy Hirsch (Emory) and Justin Okin (Elliot) – even though one’s heart went out to Okin, who captured both the child in Elliot and the man he will one day become with surprisingly deft switches in personality. Rogue Machine, on the basis of its productions of Four Places (which, incidentally, got richer and deeper and funnier with time) and MilkMilkLemonade, promises to be one of the most accomplished theater companies in town. The latter deserves as long a run as the former.

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