'Chicken Shop' review or 'I know I asked for greasy but...'

'Chicken Shop', Anna Jordan
Park Theatre, 3rd September 2014
Written for Time Out



Meet Luminita. She has been sex trafficked from Moldova and now works as a prostitute in a tiny room above a chicken shop in Hounslow. She hasn’t felt the sunlight in months. Meet Hendrix. He is trapped at home with his stressed mother and her disturbingly attractive girlfriend, Katie. Luminita and Hendrix are worlds apart but only streets away. Can they help each other forge a new life? 

This is the world premiere of ‘Chicken Shop’, written by Bruntwood Playwriting Prize-winner Anna Jordan. The play is by no means perfect; yoga-loving girlfriend Katie is unconvincing and the plot meanders. But despite these dips, this is a vivid and startling production from director Jemma Gross, which showcases a talented and deeply compassionate new writer. 

I doubt Jordan has seen many brothels in her time, but Luminita’s world is utterly convincing. The brothel, designed by Florence Hazard, is grim and impoverished but not romantically so. The room is spare but tidy and kept obsessively clean by Luminita, who spends much of her time frantically scrubbing at vomit, semen and piss. 

The scenes between Luminita (Lucy Roslyn) and her pimp Leko (John Last) crackle with menace; when Leko pins a hairclip on Luminita, it’s as if he is stabbing her. There are some brilliant light moments too. Jesse Rutherford is superb as teenager Hendrix, who earnestly brings Luminita fruit to boost her ‘five a day’. We watch this naive chap grow up in front of us, as his eyes are opened to a world he might have fantasised about but the brutality of which he could never have imagined.

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