Chicken Shop at the Park
What begins as a fairly light-hearted drama of domesticity in a modern context quickly leads its audience to ascend into dark and thought-provokingly territory above the titular eatery in Anna Jordan’s Chicken Shop. Though it makes for uncomfortable viewing at times, you will struggle to tear your eyes from it.
Like most 16-year-olds, Hendrix (Jesse Rutherford) is confused by the alien urges that accompany puberty. For want of a positive male role model due to his Mother’s sexual preference, his awakening is an awkward muddle of hard–line feminism and illicitly consumed pornography. Exasperated by schoolyard bullies and the misguided teasing of his Mother’s partner Katie (Millie Reeves), his quest for enlightenment drives this innocent into the underworld and into a relationship with Moldovan prostitute Lumita (Lucy Rosyln).
The cast here are excellent without exception. John Last leaves the front row in genuine fear for their safety with his terrifying turn as schizophrenic malevolent pimp Leko, and Angela Bull’s quintessential “earth mother” Hillary exudes love and freedom with which the imprisonment of his victim is contrasted. Reeves plays the ditzy new-age airhead for laughs, which are later left to echo in the play’s stark and harrowing climax with great effect.
It’s thanks to Roslyn’s Lumita, however, that the play so powerfully drives home the issues at hand. Director Jemma Gross has drawn from Roslyn a deft portrayal of both a striking embodiment of teenage fantasy and the tragically broken noble spirit within. Luminita captivates those watching into looking inward at their own responsibility as part of society (and a city) that allows such a sickeningly malevolent criminal trade to be a viable prospect for its real-world perpetrators. This centrepiece performance is elevated further by Rutherford’s – one of nervous, self-depreciating charm – and by smart staging that forces one to view the warmth and light of a family home by looking over and beyond Luminita, front of stage, despairing in the darkness of her prison.
An entertaining rollercoaster of claustrophobia (suiting the Park Theatre’s smaller studio stage perfectly), and a deeply affecting study of a topical and important issue, Chicken Shop is a play that you simply need to go and see if you are at all able.
Chicken Shop is on at the Park Theatre from 3rd September until 28th September 2014, for further information or to book visit here.
Watch the trailer for Chicken Shop here: