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Festival Review: Chicken ***

Lorna Irvine reviews a production that's 'bewitching at its best, bewildering on occasion but always beautifully performed'.

Molly Davies' economical script is an odd one, and very intriguing.

Somewhere between the industrial grit of working-class drama and pagan-inflected tales of Angela Carter, it provides an unsettling snapshot of Emily (Rosie Sheehy), an otherworldly emo kid working in a chicken processing plant in East Anglia, who is tiring of her job, the suffering of the chickens and her own limited circumstances.

Wayward Layla (Beth Cooke), Emily's co-worker, is somewhat nihilistic, hellbent on seducing sinister older man Harry (Benjamin Dilloway). Manager Lorraine (Josephine Butler) is the practical, somewhat close-minded manager of the plant and also, in another role, the concerned mother of Emily.

Using eerie folk songs, uneasy family ties and a dabbling in the occult, feathers fly. The sound, provided by George Dennis, and Elliot Griggs' lighting is particularly evocative in the innovative setting of The Roundabout, particularly when Sheehy and Cooke sing gorgeously together, but the story's tension gets a little lost when the twist can be spotted early.

Still, an absorbing spin on East Anglian production and those who would seek to subvert it through activism, working from the inside. Bewitching at its best, bewildering on occasion but always beautifully performed, particularly by Sheehy who invests Emily with a chilly, slightly unhinged disposition. She is a fascinating young actor to watch out for.

Performance at Summerhall is concluded.

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