It’s almost false advertising when Tremont’s exciting Convergence-Continuum advertises that “it’s not easy growing up ‘different’ on the farm.” Its current production, “MilkMilkLemonade,” is a delightfully absurd play.
Emory is a fifth-grader who indeed is “different.” His favorite toy is a doll with a frightening mane of hair. Told by his grandmother that “God does not like fags,” Emory has to find his happiness elsewhere after Nanna confiscates the doll. He has a friend in an overaged chicken named Linda. Emory has saved Linda from the “processing machine” more than once. His neighbor Elliot, ostensibly a bully, seems to enjoy playing not only “prom night” with Emory, but also “house” with Emory as Elliot’s bathrobed, put-upon wife.
Emory also finds promise in the show “Reach for the Stars” and strives to be a part of this. Absurd? You bet, but “MilkMilkLemonade” has almost nonstop laughter through its intermissionless 80 minutes. Convergence-Continuum is quick to point out that “all children and animate animals are played by adults” in this show for adults only.
Wide-eyed and beaming with an ear-to-ear smile, Zac Hudak’s Emory puts the audience into the head of a 10-year-old who just wants to be himself. His relationship with neighbor Elliot is complex. Brian Devers seems to be the neighborhood thug, burning textbooks and threatening Emory, but we quickly learn that Elliot has a “thing” for Emory. The actors’ “playing house” scenes are among the show’s best.
Sarah Kunckik has the role of chicken Linda. Saved by Emory, she still is depressed and has her own dream of being a comedy club shock comedian. Also in the cast is Marcia Mandell as grandmother Nanna, who seems to be on the verge of dying sometime soon.
Directed by Cory Molner, “MilkMilkLemonade” has too much going on. Scenes change rapidly, and the weird concepts are a frame on which to hang short skits. Within five minutes of the show’s start, Emory and chicken Linda perform an intricate dance to “Anything Goes,” which they visualize as their premiere in “Reach for the Stars.” I mean, you just gotta laugh at this!
There’s a dark side to Brian Devers’ Elliot, and we find out that he has an evil parasitic twin living in his thigh. This entity, and other roles in the show, are admirably played by Lisa Wiley, known “corporately” as “Lady in a Leotard.”
Clyde Simon’s cartoony set lets us know that we are in for a nonrealistic experience. Scott Zolkowski has designed a feather-covered chicken coat for Linda, and a thugish look for Elliot in a Guns N’ Roses shirt.
I thought Joshua Conkel’s script had a few too many loose ends. Nanna’s illness and fundamental Christianity is mentioned, but goes unexplored. Why Linda needs to perform as a shock comic, too, is not explained or justified. Nevertheless, the opening night’s sold-out audience laughed nearly constantly. A promised touching sentimentality never emerged for me, but I was captivated by the first-rate cast and direction. Molner and his cast know how to use the quirky small space of Convergence-Continuum’s Liminis theater to full advantage.
“MilkMilkLemonade” runs through Sept. 8 at The Liminus on Scranton Road in Tremont.