In a time when the population has bloomed and the traditional political structure is breaking down (sound familiar?), East Anglia is on the cusp of becoming independent from the rest of the UK. A young woman who has been living in London returns to her rural roots, finding work in a chicken-processing factory.
From the abrupt opening where a character appears suddenly on stage clad in a black cloak and singing a folk song, there’s a strong sense of fable about Molly Davies’ darkly comic text. This feeling of mysticism is further enhanced when a carpet of hay is spread across the floor, sending up a wispy cloud of dust that hangs over the proceedings like a mystical aura.
But this a modern fairytale in which the narrative flows through the familiar territory of contemporary society (struggles for jobs, lack of housing) and meanders into fantasy. The juxtaposition of focussing the action around industrialised poultry production in a script filled with such lyrical love for green spaces evokes an image of Blake’s “dark Satanic Mills”. One scene describing how the birds are manacled onto a conveyer-belt before being slaughtered, hints at a swollen populace chained to employment before they too die.
Despite the fantastical elements, there’s a fragile emotion in the characters – compellingly performed by all the cast – giving the story a human quality and making it easy to relate to their situation. Steven Atkinson’s production is a humorous but thoughtful folkloric examination on the effect we are having on our surroundings that questions whether we want things to change.