Adelaide Festival: Kiss of the Chicken King

Oscar McLennan. Photo by Erica Peroni
Oscar McLennan. Photo by Erica Peroni

I’m pretty good at interpreting theatre. Even if I don’t really enjoy a production, I can usually work out what the artist/s are trying to communicate and the reasons for their choices. I don’t “get” Kiss of the Chicken King.

The only way to describe this production is “the ramblings of a drunk man” for it to make even the remotest of sense. Very little of the text has any sort of thematic or narrative connection, nor is it clear exactly what the piece is trying to do or say.

Much of the dialogue (performed by writer, Oscar McLennan) is incomprehensible whether due to garbled delivery (or forgotten lines!), a disconnect between performer and audience or a muddy sound mix (or perhaps all of the above).

All art is subjective and it is hoped that when Festival Artistic Director, David Sefton decided to commission this piece and put hard-earned arts funding into the work, he saw and understood something that this reviewer did not. On the surface however, this shoddily cobbled together diatribe of 90 minutes (running 20 minutes longer than the advertised time) lacks coherence or connection.

This performance does not engage as a reading, nor as a theatrical performance and there is little to add visually with missed lighting cues, incongruous AV and musical interludes that are equally rambling and incoherent. Slight costume changes that were unwarranted and the random appearances of a back-up singer were equally confusing. Martin Tourish on piano accordion appears to be a skilled player.

The restlessness and lack-luster applause of the audience in the warm Queen’s Theatre was just one indication that Kiss of the Chicken King requires editing, workshopping and a strong dramaturge/director to bring it to even within a whisper of Adelaide Festival expectations and standards.  Perhaps the original text (a book by the same name) provides more answers in the detail, but the performance falls short.

Hayley Horton

Hayley was an arts worker in South Australia for twelve years working freelance for small to medium clients as well as for companies such as the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, State Theatre Company SA, Urban Myth Theatre of Youth and the Australia Business Arts Foundation. As part of her freelance work, Hayley founded the ATG Curtain Call Awards (which is now an annual gala event), co-produced three 24 Hour Show charity fundraiser events, has judged for the Adelaide Fringe Festival and reviewed for Aussie Theatre and the Adelaide Theatre Guide. Hayley now runs a boutique events and arts management business, Footlight Events and in her spare time, is involved with Adelaide’s amateur theatre community as a producer, performer and director.

Hayley Horton

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