Friday, 5 September 2014
Theatre review: Chicken Shop
With Hendrix too nervous to do anything sexual, the two start to talk, and gradually build a friendship in which Luminita sees some hope of contacting the outside world, while the boy starts to imagine himself her saviour.
Chicken Shop is something of a slow burn with the occasional lull, and the opening half-hour feels like an overlong setup, but there's no denying the scenes between Rutherford and Roslyn sparkle, and there's an awful lot going on in Jordan's script without it feeling overloaded. On one hand it's a coming-of-age story that raises questions particularly interesting in light of the ongoing discussion on the sexualisation and objectification of women: Hendrix has been raised a feminist, taught that pornography and objectifying women are the worst things imaginable, but it's left him uncomfortable in his own sexuality; ironically, Hillary's attempt to be sexually open around him has left him repressed.
While his mother's sexuality has contributed to Henrix's hangups, Jordan's treatment of a gay relationship is also impressive in the way she presents it as indistinguishable from a straight one, in the bad ways as well as the good. Hendrix describes a typical "good cop/bad cop" relationship with his parents, and with the long-term relationship over, the unseen Meg has disappeared to go motorcycling around the world, while Hillary's midlife crisis has resulted in her shacking up with a much younger woman whose qualities don't seem to extend far beyond her looks.
The scenes with Luminita meanwhile are often harrowing, and Roslyn's performance is a standout - a couple of times she had me close to welling up. Having let the genie out of the bottle with a look at a woman essentially kept in slavery, it's a bit tricky to bring the story back to the teenager with the well-meaning, if flawed upbringing, but maybe that's the point: Being raised with hippie ideals of growing up to change the world can be overwhelming when you suddenly realise how much changing the world needs.
Chicken Shop by Anna Jordan is booking until the 28th of September at Park Theatre 90.
Running time: 2 hours 25 minutes including interval.