Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

28/02/2020 - 01/03/2020

Hamilton Gardens Arts Festival 2020

Production Details

Who’s on everybody’s lips? Phoebe Chicken and Piggly Chips!  

Phoebe Chicken and Piggly Chips are the beloved mascots of the family friendly Chick’n a Box fast food chain. In malls across the country, these happy animals dance and sing about kindness to all living things. But for the exhausted performers backstage, it’s not all free-range farms and happy chickens.

Frustrated with each other, with the repetitive nature of their work and the realisation they are selling a lie, Phoebe and Piggly are ready to explode and in the middle of their saccharine sweet children’s show, all hell breaks loose.

Chick’n A Box is a comedy that reminds us that in a world where we are constantly urged to consume, a little empathy can make a big difference to our appetite for life and that talk is cheep so sometimes even a chicken has to take a stand.

Who’s on everybody’s lips? Phoebe Chicken and Piggly Chips!

Facebook @Flaxworks

Meteor Theatre
Friday 28 Feb, 6pm
Sunday 1 Mar, 6pm
$38 General Admission
$35 Concession

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

Surprising and skilfully staged, rising to a hilarious climax

Review by Gail Pittaway 29th Feb 2020

Flaxworks Company (Alex Ellis and Phil Ormsby) never disappoint with their original productions and creations, always with a fresh new look at life. But this one really is one out of the box, exploring the frustrated lives of unhappily employed actors, forced to work as food chain mascots and entertain children with endless runs of their shows in malls.  

Of course the show opens with one of the Chick’n a Box routines – Ormsby as Piggly Chips’ mascot, urging the audience – who have been assured in the advertising this is not a family show – to sing along, shout hello and encourage Phoebe Chicken to come out of her story-book house. But the set turns around so we are suddenly in a Noises Off scenario, with the backstage reality of all this urge to consumption. Endearing Piggly becomes a foul mouthed veteran, the only Piggly actor since its inception, while the Phoebe Chicken (Ellis) is the 55th incarnation of the role.

Tellingly, neither character is named other than for their pantomime role and this signals their growing frustration as, like battery hens, they are forced to repeat perform up to 12 shows a day, wearing hilarious but heavily padded and hot costumes, and with a breakneck change of routines and songs.  The costumes and masks by Elizabeth Whiting are fabulous, especially Piggy’s striped padded bottom and little curly tail, when Orsmby is so lean, though Phoebe Chicken’s stuffed flapper outfit with vibrant comb and beak are also perfect. 

Of course no serious actor aspires to be a mall mascot; Phoebe’s actor wants to create her own one woman show while Piggly’s actor really wants to write kids’ TV, but necessity has led them there, for employment. The company’s clip file manual for their show is one of the few props, with rules about various kinds of safety practices, appropriate behaviours, with children, to enforce the sheer factory style of their employer’s expectations.  The two are also increasingly disenchanted with the lies they are forced to perform each day, luring children into eating unhealthy food, from inhumane practices.

The swift turnaround of set, masks on and off while still wearing their chicken and pig suits, becomes key to the physical comedy of the play, as is the frantic backstage checking of routines, swearing and increasing arguments, before exiting the fake door, upstage, to face the imagined mall rats. It all rises to hilarious climax when the treacly show must go on, through alcohol poisoning, rage and confusion.

Director Simon Coleman paces this rise superbly, and this surprising and skilfully staged show is a great entertainment and showcase for the accomplished writing and acting of the Flaxworks team. 


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