Pavement Group's "MilkMilkLemonade" is all about bodies; whether our bodies define who we are, the secrets our bodies keep, the terrible way our bodies turn on us in illness. Fittingly, it's a very physical production, with a grandma who walks like a sick chicken and a chicken who walks like The Fonz, and two boys punching, kissing and jumping their way through early adolescence.
Emory's Nanna (John Zinn) wants him to fit neatly into his role as a boy, complete with processing chicken on their farm and playing catch with the neighbor. Instead, Emory fits wonderfully into his role as Emory (Matt Farabee), a sensitive, ribbon dancing, starry-eyed little gay boy. His self-assurance is impressive in light of his grandmother's verbal abuse, and the daily beatings he receives at school and home from the neighbor boy, Elliot (Jessica London-Shields). Playwright Joshua Conkel gives depth to both tormentors, as they each deal with the pain of being confined so strictly to their own gender roles and traitorous bodies. Even Linda the chicken (Cyd Blakewell) yearns to break free of her expected destiny and follow her own interests. She ultimately doesn't get that chance, but we do see how Emory's strength (and Elliot's valiant efforts at self-improvement) will carry him through his years on the chicken farm until he's free to make his richly detailed fantasy world a reality.
But this gives the impression that this is A Serious Drama, when really it is a delightful romp. I mean, hello, the chicken does stand-up and the narrator sings Charlene, and I haven't even mentioned the live sound effects. Also, the gender switching in the roles of Nanna and Elliot is perfect for this show. The stellar cast and director Cassy Sanders bring Conkel's script to life in a touching, hilarious production.