If I’m ever stranded on a desert island with scripts from only one artistic director’s bedside table — which I fully expect to happen one day — I’m taking whatever Melissa Hillman’s got stacked up in her “To Read” pile.
Impact’s lit people like all the same people I do: Sheila Callaghan, Elizabeth Meriwether, Peter Nachtrieb, Steve Yockey, Melanie Marnich, Jon Tracy, Lauren Yee, Enrique Urueta, Prince Gomolvilas, to name nine.
And now they’re doing a Joshua Conkel play. The same Joshua Conkel play that I’ve wanted to see since Isaac Butler directed it off-off-Broadway last year and the critics went nuts and it won Best Off-Off-Broadway Show 2009.
I fully expected to like it; I didn’t realize I’d flip for it, laugh out loud through most of it, and tear up at the end of it.
Funny, satiric, poignant, absurd, touching: these are all words I’d toss around if I was a critic. Thankfully, I’m not, so I can just mention little moments that hit home for me — including the 11-year-olds “playing house,” the chicken processing machine, the entire last fifteen minutes or so, and the narrator singing the exact song I usually sing at karaoke (“I’ve Never Been To Me”) — and steer you to people with actual insights here or here.
The official description is this:
Gay, lonely, and trapped on the rural chicken farm run by his emphysema-addled, chain-smoking Nanna—who’s trying to “cure” him of his effeminacy—11-year-old Emory dreams of running away to the city to achieve showbiz stardom. But before he can go, he must save his beloved chicken friend Linda from Nanna’s processing machine and try to connect with the bully who lives down the road. In this hilarious yet moving new show directed by Desdemona Chiang (who helmed the Impact smash hit Ching Chong Chinaman), playwright Joshua Conkel has conjured a brilliantly cracked and dangerous world filled with innocence, love, and ribald poultry.
The problem is this: If you’re reading this on the night I’ve posted it, that means there are only three performances left. So if the fact that I really dug it (or, let’s be honest, the reviews from the East Bay Express and The Idiolect) make you want to check it out, you should hurry up.
I don’t know if it’s going to sell out — although Impact shows often do — but it deserves to.