It was appropriately called Chickens, the debut project for a new theatrical group called Hatch Arts Collective, and the egg didn’t appear until the end. At the final performance, the pencil-thin Fe Gallery in Lawrenceville was somehow packed with about 70 enthusiastic audience members, seated on both sides of artist/architecht Nick Liadis’ multi-level installation, one that echoed the angular outline of a house, with steps and a little yard to make it “homey.”
It was intriguing just to get past the title, one that applied to all the humans inside the Fe space and intimating that we are all chicken, or afraid, to discuss difficult life topics with our significant others.
Then there was the whole idea that the cast of four — Mallory Fuccella (Joyce Park), Maree ReMalia (John Park), Beth Glick (Tom Greene) and Rebecca Jacobson (Abby Greene) – were women or, in the vernacular, chicks. They played a mother, her son, his significant other, Tom, and Tom’s sister, Abby, plus a couple of subsidiary roles. When not talking, they pecked and strutted like chickens “outdoors.”
We came upon them in a series of crises. Tom wanted to ask John to wear his ring. Abby showed up at the house without calling ahead, lying and obviously hiding something. And the mother hen, Joyce, liked to drink and smoke (a green-glowing environmental type) and was, quite simply, aging, which led to a health emergency.
The crises created knots of emotion — confrontations, discussions and understanding — all delivered with a disarming directness, filtered, as it was, through Paul Kruse’s words and Adil Mansoor’s direction.
This was physical theater with an emphasis on the “physical” or movement, giving it a visual thrust. Sometimes there were a few loose threads — the “chickens” began to infiltrate the house and it was occasionally awkward for the mother to continue on after her death.
But there were some fine touches, like the actors’ commitment to their roles and wry, deconstructed snatches of You Are My Sunshine (Alaina Dopico on an untuned uke…I think). And Chickens had a confidence that will serve Hatch well as it [hopefully] continues to grow a very cool branch of Pittsburgh’s theater scene.