How to Kill a Chicken review – Riverside Studios ★★★★☆

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Gigi Tisminetzky‘s How to Kill a Chicken, playing as part of Riverside Studios Bitesize Festival, aims to spark conversations around abuse at a time when three women are being killed every fortnight by a current or ex-partner. As part of the show’s run, is a self-defence course this weekend alongside its final shows in aid of Women’s Aid.

Tisminetzky writes and performs the short piece under Ella Rowdon’s direction. It’s almost a one-woman play – she’s accompanied by Laura Reznek on violin, who performs a live score. It’s integral to the production and could be described as a character in itself, facing down Tisminetzky’s unnamed character as she fails to be honest with herself – adding lightness and darkness, and offering up a challenge for the woman to be honest about her experiences.

The woman has travelled to Costa Rica for her 29th birthday – it’s heaven, or at least that’s what she would like everyone to believe; there’s sun, sand, salsa and surfing lessons with her new amour, Jose – all the things that make up the online posts and anecdotes she recounts when she makes it home. But it’s not all as it seems. It’s a slim tale, coming in at just under 45 minutes, but there is enough to it that it feels whole, if not expansive.

Tisminetzky is an incredibly engaging performer, her natural delivery drawing you in – the moments when she goes slightly off script (one brave audience member has brought a baby, whose gurgles Tisminetzky praises) feel as authentic as the scripted text – which is what makes the play’s shocking climax all the more devastating.

Tisminetzky makes the experience, the stakes and the outcomes real.

How to Kill a Chicken is at Riverside Studios until 18 February 2024