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Chicken Shop
Urbanite Theatre

Joseph Flynn and and Lauren Wood
Urbanite Theatre enters the Sarasota Theater scene, presenting the U.S. premiere of Chicken Shop by Anna Jordan. About a year ago Brendan Regan, Summer Dawn Wallace, and Harry Lipstein announced plans for a new company that would concentrate on newer, edgier material to give them a unique profile in the area. Chicken Shop won the 2014 West End Frame's London Fringe Production of the Year award and it is not hard to understand why. Ms. Jordan has written a provocative play dealing with contemporary subjects such as sex trafficking and alternative families. Her characters are well drawn and the plotting holds interest. After the play, my husband and I discussed the issues for quite a while.

Director Barbara Redmond helms an outstanding production; every one of the actors delivers the best performance I have ever seen from them. The pacing also is brilliant, two hours of non-stop fierce intensity.

Joseph Flynn plays Hendrix, 16 years old and coming face to face with his new-found sexuality. Flynn is brilliant in the role, totally believable as an adolescent who is not confident but has moments when he seems to become the fine man that his mother wants him to be. Last year in The Burnt Part Boys Flynn gave a fine performance in a similar part, although that was a musical. Lauren Woods gives a completely realized performance as Hendrix' mother Hilary, self-centered as a woman, strongly protective as a mother, and wham as a sexual being. As Hilary's younger partner Katie, Lucy Lavely shows the character's difficulty in finding her proper place in a newly blended family where she is an adult to Hilary yet possible older sister to Hendrix. In a separate part of the play Jason Bradley, who I have seen in more mainstream vehicles as a leading man, plays Leko a Hungarian pimp. He is completely frightening and when in the second round of bows he smiled, I didn't believe him for a second. Ashley Scanlon plays Luminita, a young Moldavian woman caught in the life of a sex worker. She captures the emotional emptiness and the momentary connection with feelings when she is able to phone her younger sister. Five brilliant performances!

Scenic designer Jeff Dillon is able to use the limited space in the small black box theater to show a living room and Hendrix' bedroom as well as a separate bedroom for Luminita's business dealings. Costumes by Monica Crees and lighting by Bill Najmy add to the overall excellence of the theatrical experience.

This has been a really fine theatrical season so far, with several outstanding productions from Asolo Rep, Florida Studio Theatre, freeFall, and others. I think that the issues raised in Chicken Shop are important, timely ones, certainly relevant to my own personal life. I am thrilled to welcome Urbanite Theatre to the neighborhood!

Urbanite Theatre presents Chicken Shop through May 10, 2015 at 1487 2nd St. Sarasota, FL 34326. Visit for more information.

Cast: Hendrix: Joseph Flynn
Katie: Lucy Lavely*
Hilary: Lauren Wood
Leko: Jason Bradley*
Luminita: Ashley Scanlon
* Denotes Member of Actors' Equity Association

Director: Barbara Redmond
Stage Manager: Alexis Evans
Scenic Design: Jeff Dillon
Lighting Design: Bill Najmy
Costumes: Monica Cross
Make-up: Michelle Hart

Photo: Cliff Roles

--William S. Oser

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