Woman holding a a black chicken. They both look towards the camera.Mama is at home with a bedridden Papa, ticking through life with constant rounds of washing, gardening, and meal making. Her family doesn’t visit as often as she’d like so she spends a lot of time in her garden.  When a cheeky chicken starts scratching around Mama is quite upset. The chicken gradually wins her over and Mama tells it all her secrets.

Goretti Chadwick is excellent as Mama. At the start she bustles around the cartoon bright set (production designer John Parker) fiddling with the plants and threatening aphids. The two raised gardens and small clothes line give us a false sense of brightness and enclose Mama in domestic life. The chicken (created by Helen Fuller) is gorgeous. Puppeted by Haanz Fa’avae-Jackson it is delightfully bird-like and provides a non-judgemental listener for Mama to talk to. As Mama talks to the chicken about current and past events we start to understand why the children and grandchildren might not be not be visiting.  Playwright David Fa’auliuli Mamea includes some shocking revelations about various relationships and director Fasitua Amosa keeps the tension high in the final section. This is where Chadwick really shines and we see through Mama’s facade.

A sweet show with depth.

Still Life with Chickens on at Circa Theatre to 2 June 2018