By: Michael M. Humel
The Chalk Boy by Joshua Conkel is currently running from December 6th until the 22nd at Cockroach Theater. I was able to see one of the performances of the second weekend.
I liked how two of the actresses interacted with the audience. It made you feel like you were part of the show. The story starts at a small town school in Clear Creek where the most popular boy Jeffrey Chalk goes missing. The play follows four young women who were all in some way effected by what has happened to this boy. The beginning of the play has Lauren Radley played by Nicole Unger and Trisha Sorensen played by Brenna Folger introducing the story they are going to tell. I enjoyed the way that as soon as you entered the theater two of the actresses were already in character waiting to welcome the audience. What I noticed first about the play is the ease with which Brenna Folger could make the audience laugh. Even when it was a small one liner said at the right moment I constantly found myself laughing at one point or another when she was on stage. Nicole Unger and Brenna Folger play multiple characters in stage. If any audience member were to close their eyes they would have thought they weren’t the same people. Which I thought was very impressive. The underlying dramatic subject matter is what really captured my attention. Nicole Unger plays a bubbly High School girl who fakes her happiness to hopefully get through to the other side. Memory McAllister brings a sexy bad girl tone to the production. While watching her performance you could tell she tries to act strong. However, she doesn’t have the self-confidence she wants us to believe is inside of her. She struggles with her love or infatuation with Jeffrey Chalk. Natalie Senegal who plays Breanna Stark was a standout in her performance of a young woman who knows she is a lesbian. However, she isn’t quite comfortable with the realization until the end of the play. She showed the effects of what could happen to a young woman who is labeled and pushed to the edge. The feeling of being misunderstood and an outsider I related to greatly. I enjoyed how Breanna’s life changes at the end of the play. This shows how life can unfold the right way if you are true to yourself and good to others.
The director and scenic director Troy Heard does an amazing job bringing the town into the small theater. Chalk art on the walls and floor are done by Gina Quaranto and Ali Fathollahi. As director Heard gets every last drop of passion he can from his actresses. The issues they all deal with are given great care and attention. Even the movements of each actress is a testament to the detail Heard has given this production.