Orlando Fringe 2017 review: 'Now With Chikin'


You've probably seen the Chick-fil-A cows countless times along the highway, proudly painting their grammatically challenged advertisements. But have you ever given much thought to their inner lives? Playwright Michael Knight obviously spent an inordinate amount of time considering these billboard-bound bovines before birthing Now With Chikin, a deeply weird but undeniably original dramedy.

Beginning with a hilariously fowl-mouthed corporate meeting led by Shanel Sparr, Knight's script strikes all the expected satirical soft spots — from the tiny pickles and ambrosial sweet tea to being closed on Sundays — with the deliberate exception of sandwich vendor's anti-gay stance. But then it takes a twist into darker territory, as the anthropomorphic protagonists Bessie (Olivia Demarco) and Bruno (Anachebe Asomugha) wrangle over the morality of their anti-avian marketing campaign. Bessie become a fanatic supporter of the pro-cow moovement, despite accusations of fascism from an radical activist rooster (Sparr, again), while Bruno begins to wonder if there's a way to save his calves from slaughter without throwing other species on the grill.

As the parody of fast food culture curdles into a political polemic about how the ruling classes use identity politics to pit the poor against each other, Asomugha delivers a heartfelt monologue about his butchered beau, and the play suddenly turns into Animal Farm meets Schindler's List. The script's strange tone would be better suited by stronger direction; Eric Desnoyers' blocking is spatially confusing, and he allows the pace to sag when the dialogue should snap. Now With Chikin needs some editing and a punchier ending before it makes me swear off meat entirely, but there's some unexpected beefy food for thought on this bun.

Now With Chikin
Sprocket Stage Company
Green Venue
Thursday, May 18, 10:15 PM
Saturday, May 20, 1:00 PM
Sunday, May 21, 7:00 PM
Monday, May 22, 8:45 PM
Wednesday, May 24, 10:45 PM
Saturday, May 27, 2:45 PM
Sunday, May 28, 8:30 PM

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