Chicken author Mike Batistick says in the programme notes that he was trying to “address the issues on my mind” with the script. If Chicken has one standout problem it’s that it isn’t about anything very much at all.
George Georgio (Floyd), Lisa Maxwell (Lina) and Craig Kelly (Wendall) in Chicken at Trafalgar Studios 2, London Photo: Colin Bell
Lina, played by Lisa Maxwell, drinks while pregnant, but why or what this represents is never explored. The two male leads, Wendall, played by Craig Kelly, and Floyd, George Georgiou, are both from a foster home and became close there - and while there is a little about how this affects their relationships with others and their parents, it is, again, never explored beyond the most superficial of levels.
Consequently, this is a play featuring characters who are difficult to care about in a situation that is at best ephemeral.
Wendall wants to fight roosters to raise some extra cash because he and Lina are having a baby. Floyd’s stroke-afflicted father, played by Andy Lucas, is a rooster fighting expert but the pair must overcome their familial animosity before he can help. They are all a bit rubbish in relationships. Batistick tells this through innumerable scenes that have the actors stomping around in this small space. It all seems a bit cobbled together. It’s a few read throughs short of a workable rehearsal piece.
Fortunately, Lisa Maxwell’s performance lifts proceedings enough to establish some connection with the audience. Andy Lucas, too, finds the vulnerability of a broken hard-man in Floyd’s father. The rest, particularly Kelly, seem to be clinging onto the gossamer threads that make up their characters, trying to find some definition in them. Wendall’s eventual final act comes from nowhere and has utter irrelevance.