In this play, the North/South divide is a reality. Well, if the North includes East Anglia that is. The “separation” is happening: North and South have finally decided to live autonomously. There are two industries for the North to hone: bicycles and chickens. Writer Molly Davies chooses to focus on the latter in Eastern Angles’ production of Chicken.

There are positives amongst the perplexity: it is well cast, brilliantly acted and technically tight but there simply isn’t enough to work with.

Action begins with Emily, a troubled young witch working in Tesco. Yes, a witch. A witch in Tesco. Her mother and father, Lorraine and Harry, work at the chicken factory and are trialling a new worker, Layla from London, ahead of the “night of separation”. Unfortunately, from the outset, conversations confuse and plot stagnates. The peak of dramatic intensity between Harry and Layla floods the theatre in the round with sexual tension, leaving you intrigued, but no more is offered. Every character is an enigma: initially interesting, ultimately frustrating.

Emily’s eeriness, enacted well by Rosie Sheehy, becomes more prominent as the play progresses. Maintaining that her voice is louder when she stays silent, Emily chooses not to talk to her parents but rather terrorise them, with an onslaught of mystically provoked chickens.

However, the stage version of The Birds this is not. This play has a promising dystopian premise but ultimately ends up leaving far too much to the imagination. Relationships begin to form but fail to develop. Many intriguing thoughts bubble under the surface: social divisions; mental illness; animal welfare ethics; repressed violence. But none are given enough weight to impact or affect.

Snippets of dark humour push through the abstraction, but they are too few and far between to warrant its description as ‘dark comedy’. Songs occasionally bookend scenes but feel contrived and fall rather flat, literally.

There are positives amongst the perplexity: it is well cast, brilliantly acted and technically tight but there simply isn’t enough to work with. With full price tickets at £14, concessionary tickets at £12, this play is just too dear to merely end in disappointment.

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The Blurb

Eastern Angles and Unity Theatre, Liverpool present Chicken, a darkly comic new play by Molly Davies. Set in a dystopian future where people from the north and south are alienated from one another, London sits above the chaos as a sovereign state. Davies, whose previous credits include A Miracle and God Bless the Child (Royal Court), Shooting Truth (National Theatre Connections) and Orpheus and Eurydice (NYT/Old Vic Tunnels), has created a wonderfully twisted world where communities collide, families are fractured and the agricultural idyll is distorted beyond recognition.

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