Review: Chicken Soup, Crucible Studio, Sheffield

This recipe for chicken soup requires a lot more seasoning, and a deft flick of the ladle to skim off a layer of surface fat.

Jusdy Flynn as Josephine in Chicken Soup.
Jusdy Flynn as Josephine in Chicken Soup.

It simmers cheerfully but doesn’t give the nourishment that the authors (Ray Castleton and Kieran Knowles) perhaps hoped to deliver. Here we have the story of a group of very different women who share a common workspace, a community centre somewhere adjacent to Rotherham. We first meet them just after the bloody battle of Orgreave, during the miners’ strike, running a soup kitchen from the premises.

A few years later, they are preparing a social event to celebrate a royal jubilee, to impress local bigwigs and secure funding and then, after the interval, we are with them again, this time on the evening of the Brexit referendum, and just before the result is announced.

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The authors have a strong and convincing ear for dialogue but would benefit from the advice of an experienced dramaturg in strengthening the structure.

The determination of the women, a mixture of cussedness, patience, intuition, and brute strength of will, is completely admirable, and it could scarcely be more noble but, for some reason, it just doesn’t cohesively pull at the heart-strings. It has its moments, and it doesn’t fall into the trap of sentimentality, but it does teeter on the edge of stereotype.

To March 3.