Battery Farm Drama Running Low On Plot
Londonist Rating: ★★☆☆☆
Chicken Dust at the Finborough Theatre focuses on a niche subject — the lives and dramas of chicken workers on a mass produce farm somewhere in East Midlands. With ample room for commentary on the degeneration of modern life and values, we anticipated good things. Unfortunately, the show hardly proves to be a feather in Finborough Theatre's cap.
The trouble is, the ups and downs of these five boredom-crazed workers are less interesting than their individual quirks. When Val (Paddy Navin) looks at her reflection, shaking out a shock of yellow hair and stomping about, we’re reminded of the poor chickens going crazy in their few square inches of space in the grill behind her.
Roger Alborough’s despairing Freddie, meanwhile, has hands that shake like chicken feet — a sort of post traumatic shock syndrome from years spent doing his sickening work. It's obvious through such traits that working with chickens has got under the characters' skin and into their minds. The wider stories, however — Roger’s impending joblessness and Val’s horrifying childhood where local yobs slit cows throats open for the hell of it — lack depth.
This might be merely because it’s hard to cram several stories into 90 minutes. We’re given too little time with each of them to really believe or care. More effective are the contrasts. Like the irrepressible Mark Conway’s Razvan (the Romanian temp), who is more valuable to owner Russ (Paul Easom) than the older, shell-shocked Freddie. It’s these little details that achieve the play’s theme of decrepitude of old values and the erosion of farming. But such details are not enough to convince on their own.
Last Updated 05 March 2015