With its latest show, Cockroach Theatre matches a dark month with dark material. In The Chalk BoyT by Joshua Conkel, four girls (played by Natalie Senecal, Memory McAllister, Nicole Unger and Brenna Folger) lift up the rock on small-town life, exposing all the nasty trials and hypocrisies of growing up today. “It’s a black comedy,” says director Troy Heard. “It’s really, really funny at times.”
It also has a unique look to it, turning Art Square Theatre into a cramped small town, with dead branches hanging from the grid, and several theatrical moments to make it a visually arresting, if simple, play. There may be no trapezes or pyro, but the show was meant to be adapted into a graphic novel and has a strong visual language. “It’s also a tour de force by the actresses,” Heard says. “I’ve known about this play for a long time and wanted to do it for years, but I’m glad I waited, because the right cast came along.”
For their part, the actresses are having a great time rehearsing it, and playing with each other’s heads. Unger explains how she gets to play a creepy truck driver messing with one of the girls.
“As a woman you know what is going to be creepy to other women, what this creepy truck driver can do to make you squirm,” she says, “so that’s a fun factor to play around with.” Unger looks over at a slightly uneasy Senecal and they both laugh. Exactly what they hope to have the audience doing.
The Chalk Boy December 6-22; Thursday-Saturday, 8 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.; $16-$20. Art Square Theatre, cockroachtheatre.com.