The Chicken Trial

Was it animal cruelty to bring 6 chickens to a rowdy nightclub, and is that the wrong question? The Chicken Trial is a “documentary fantasy” recounting the trial of Makode Linde, an art student who brought chickens to an animal-themed club night. She claims the animals were cared for, and that it was all part of a performance, but who is the telling the truth, and why does it matter?

a trial about a guy who may or may not have seriously messed up some chickens

The play describes itself as a “political comedy” that “develops … into an absurd meeting of the real and artificial.” I’d have to argue that it starts that way, with the characters wearing giant cardboard faces and doing (of course) the iconic Chicken Dance, but it also does naturalism quite well; the dialogue contains all the um’s, ah’s and repetition one finds in normal speech. This could have seemed sloppy, but instead was carried admirably by the four actors. The defendant (played by Eunice Olumide) is certainly the central character, talking to the audience directly on a number of occasions, but I was most impressed by Eliza Langland, who gave each of her three characters a grounded distinctiveness.

To suit its style, naturalistic lighting quickly turned into a nightclub atmosphere and back again, aided by costume changes and inventive sound design. Really, every technical element was well done - though there are insistent problems regarding the play’s theme.

To Makode Linde, or at least his character, the trial has nothing to do with chickens at all. He claims that the reason he is being judged is because society’s narrow definition of art has no room for his ideas. He argues that a West End (or even Edinburgh Festival Fringe) performance would face no such backlash, nor do the farmers that confine millions of chickens in enclosed, stressful spaces on a regular basis. However, the connection is too weak to balance the weight of a performance on. Despite the digressions, I never stopped watching a trial about a guy who may or may not have seriously messed up some chickens.

So maybe the argument against Linde was weak; maybe society has a limited idea of what counts as art and that should be challenged. But the trial represented in the play doesn’t reach the vital relevance of other political pieces, such as Laramie Project, which definitely stood for something much more important. The resulting production, despite the quality of the team, lacks the quality to make an audience shut up and pay attention. 

Reviews by Bennett Bonci

Gilded Balloon Teviot

So You Think You're Funny? Grand Final

★★★
Assembly Rooms

To Hell in a Handbag

★★★★
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Tiff Stevenson: Bombshell

★★★★
Greenside @ Infirmary Street

War of the Sperms

★★★
theSpace on the Mile

Church Blitz

★★★
King's Theatre

The Divide - Part 2

★★★

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. We don't want your money to support a hack's bar bill at Abattoir, but if you have a pound or two spare, we really encourage you to support a good cause. If this review has either helped you discover a gem or avoid a turkey, consider doing some good that will really make a difference.

You can donate to the charity of your choice, but if you're looking for inspiration, there are three charities we really like.

Mama Biashara
Kate Copstick’s charity, Mama Biashara, works with the poorest and most marginalised people in Kenya. They give grants to set up small, sustainable businesses that bring financial independence and security. That five quid you spend on a large glass of House White? They can save someone’s life with that. And the money for a pair of Air Jordans? Will take four women and their fifteen children away from a man who is raping them and into a new life with a moneymaking business for Mum and happiness for the kids.
Donate to Mama Biashara now

Theatre MAD
The Make A Difference Trust fights HIV & AIDS one stage at a time. Their UK and International grant-making strategy is based on five criteria that raise awareness, educate, and provide care and support for the most vulnerable in society. A host of fundraising events, including Bucket Collections, Late Night Cabarets, West End Eurovision, West End Bares and A West End Christmas continue to raise funds for projects both in the UK and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Donate to Theatre MAD now

Acting For Others
Acting for Others provides financial and emotional support to all theatre workers in times of need through the 14 member charities. During the COVID-19 crisis Acting for Others have raised over £600,000 to support theatre workers affected by the pandemic.
Donate to Acting For Others now

Performances

Location

The Blurb

Can art be put to trial? Yes, says the Swedish law system that in 2008 prosecuted art student Makode Linde for having brought a hat full of chickens to an animal-themed event at a nightclub. The Chicken Trial is a fantasy documentary based on the court case that followed. This political comedy directed by Fredrik Lundqvist also strikes a serious note. As witnesses struggle to recreate the night's events, and actors to make head or tail of the rights of animals in the arts, the trial develops into an absurd meeting of the real and the artificial.

Most Popular See More

My Fair Lady

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Wicked

From £24.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Tina - The Tina Turner Musical

From £12.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Pretty Woman: The Musical

From £18.00

More Info

Find Tickets

The Phantom of the Opera

From £27.00

More Info

Find Tickets

Dear Evan Hansen

From £30.00

More Info

Find Tickets