Friday, 13 July 2012

Theatre review: Chicken

As a tiny West End venue that'll take on any small-scale production that can raise the cash, Trafalgar Studio 2 is always worth keeping an eye on for surprise gems. But by the same token you also get more than your fair share of shows whose very existence on a stage is baffling. Which brings us to New York playwright Mike Batistick's Chicken, a play I'm stumped how to even begin describing, as I'm none the wiser about what Batistick was trying to say with it. Wendell (Craig Kelly) Lives with his heavily pregnant wife Lina (Lisa Maxwell) in a tiny Bronx apartment, and for the last few months Wendell's unemployed oldest friend Floyd (George Georgiou) has been staying on their couch. Wendell wants Floyd to leave, but instead Floyd brings home a sick rooster, which he hopes they can nurse back to health so it can win them a fortune in a cockfight.

A short play with an unnecessary interval (without it it would run well under 90 minutes) Chicken just chucks new information into the mix in the hope that something might stick. It's mentioned a couple of times that the two men first met in a children's home. Floyd's father Felix (Andy Lucas) abandoned his son, but at some point we're told Wendell sees him as the closest thing he has to a father, so presumably he was around again? Floyd has a gay teenage son. But he might not actually be his. Actually he might be Wendell's. Or not. Also, their cockfighting partner Geronimo (Daniel Yabut) has a dead wife. Sure, why not? A character dies. Nobody reacts, although later they claim to miss him in the middle of an unrelated conversation. The programme notes almost entirely talk about cockfighting, so maybe that's literally what the play's about. Maybe it's about Georgiou's character wearing the ugliest shoes known to man. Who knows? Who cares? Not director Sam Neophytou or his cast, by the looks of things. Not this audience member. I'd say this feels like a first draft, but it feels more like someone's accidentally staged the playwright's preliminary notes.

Chicken by Mike Batistick is booking until the 21st of July at Trafalgar Studio 2.

Running time: 1 hour 35 minutes including interval.

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