As a native New Yorker turned Londoner there is nothing I delight in more than getting the chance to be transported to an apartment in the Bronx for a couple of hours with some colourful and desperate characters. The references to the Whitestone bridge, the Grand Concourse, and the 95 in “Chicken” by new playwright, Mike Batistick, made me giggle with a tinge of nostalgia for home.
This Bronx tale tells the story of two mates who grew up in an orphanage together so they’re like practically “brothas” ( insert your best Bronx accent here). However, years later we find Wendal (Craig Kelly) has turned into an unhappy fast-food eating toll collector and has to deal with Floyd (Cristian Solimano) who wants to train up an ailing rooster for an illegal cockfight. Wendal’s smoking and boozing pregnant wife Lina (Lisa Maxwell) is also dealing with some of her own problems one of which is trying to kick Floyd out of her house and off her couch.
The presence of this chicken in the confines of this dysfunctional Bronx flat could seem a bit odd at first but it came to represent something else. Though I felt Kelly’s NY accent got the best of him at times he did succeed in portraying his character’s weakness at times very much like that chicken in the pen. Solimano was really a natural as a New York Yankee lovin’ Bronx boy. I found Andy Lucas to be outstanding in the role of Floyd’s stroke-ridden Cuban father and I was quite moved by the violent exchanges between him and his son.
There are some truly funny moments. Amy Tez’s entrance towards the middle as Floyd’s flirtatious ex, Rosalind, definitely added to the comic relief as she bangs on about how drinking beer is like a vacation for the baby. I also loved the energy Daniel Yabut brings to the Philippine local hustler. Though the production could’ve used a bit more of Yabut’s infectious energy, I was still entertained by this group of Bronx characters and their tumultuous lives.
Chicken is on till the 21st of July at Trafalgar Studios. Tickets available here http://www.atgtickets.com/venues/trafalgar-studios/ or by calling 0844 871 7632.