Originally published in Theatre & Performance Magazine
Emory and his Nanna live on a chicken farm in rural USA. Nanna is worried that Emory isn’t like other boys of his age – he prefers dancing, playing with his doll Charlene and pretending to audition for the local talent show. Nanna would rather he played with Elliot, the boy on the next farm over who likes to burn things. But Emory and Elliot already play together and not in the way that God-fearing Nanna would approve of…
Joshua Conkel has written an off-the-wall comedy which doesn’t take itself too seriously. The deeper message of a friendship between unlikely people and the courage it takes to be different are masked with cartoonish comedy and cheap laughs. Oh, and a chicken that talks.
The set is incredibly simple and low budget, it verges on amateur. But in this space, keeping it cheap and cheerful works in favour of the production; it gives the whole play the feeling of a children’s TV programme.
Georgia Buchanan is the star of the show here. Playing the Lady-In-Leotard, a narrator of the story, she bounds about the stage with desperate enthusiasm and takes on a number of different personalities all of which had the audience falling off their hay bale seats in laughter. But amongst all the comedy, there is a sweet, albeit unlikely, friendship blossoming in the middle of this play between Emory (Daniel Francis-Swaby) and Elliot (Sophie Steer). Steer is the stronger actor of the two, putting on a gormless, confident child that many people could recognise as their school bully when they were growing up. Their typical childhood game of roleplaying family life becomes the escapism from the difficulty of their respective realities.
Whilst dealing with some serious themes of acceptance and individuality, this play is not one for the more serious theatregoer. But for someone who enjoys an alternative, contemporary production and to have a light-hearted laugh, then it’s perfect.
(An Arch 468 production)
Playing until 25th October 2014
Awarded 4 stars