“Milk Milk Lemonade” by Joshua Conkel produced by Washington Ensemble Theatre, is a so-called play which reminded me of Soviet Realism in literature; that is to say, if the subject matter is ideologically correct the aesthetics do not matter and therefore it is a great piece of art.
This “play” was little more than some vignettes taking place at a remote Chicken Farm. According to the text it was in the mid-west, according to the accents of the owner of the farm, it was further South, Oklahoma or Arkansas. The main character, Emory, a gay 10 year old, (played by Noah Benezra)who dreams of escaping when his dying grandmother, played by Troy Mink leaves him the farm, is in an abusive sexual relationship with a 10-year old rageaholic neighbor, Elliot, (played by Tim Smith-Stewart). Emory’s best friend-is a female Chicken, Linda, played by a 6-foot actress, Kate Stumper. Various things go on on stage; Elliot sings and practices his dance routines, Linda does stand-up comedy, Nana, the grandmother contemptuously characateurs uneducated, Christian, homo-phobes, Emory mocks and knocks Elliot around and about, everybody shouts and screeches a lot.
The “play” lacked a focus or a plot, things were just thrown in and the meat of the matter: the plight of a 10 year old gay kid stuck in not only a gay-unfriendly environment, but about to be a foster child and the even more interesting plight of Emory, the bully who is being bullied in his dysfunctional alcoholic home, is given short shrift. However, judging by the standing ovation the need to deal with the childhood bullying issues of gays, is so great that it had a lot of appeal. However, it would have been a stronger play had they dealt in depth with the abandonment issues of both Emory and Elliott.
This play needs a plot, a focus and some heavy duty re-writing.
“Milk Milk Lemonade” by Joshua Conkel, directed by Montana von Fliss, Washington Ensemble Theatre. 608-19th Ave E, at The Little Theatre in Capitol Hill (Between Mercer & Roy) Sept. 16-Oct. 10. Thursdays through Mondays, at 7:30 www.wshingtonensemble.org.