Based on the promotional pictures alone, OmeletteMachine seems to examine the total devolution and loss of sanity of a headless chicken; and in a sense it delivers. Tommaso Giacomin plays Mike the headless chicken, forced to work in his father’s shop ‘Hamlet & Sons Butchers’, remorsefully responsible for killing his own kind. As expected, he slowly loses his mind as the guilt consumes him, and he tries to escape.
Giacomin’s hilarious use of costume perfectly encapsulates a headless chicken, padding around the head suggesting a neck opening and ridiculous padding around the hips causing him to waddle around the stage. He embodies the mannerisms of a chicken brilliantly, using this as a stepping stone to allow for his show to descend into chaos.
Unfortunately, some areas of the show feel like they miss their potential. Much of who Mike’s character is is learned through the play description, rather than the play itself. Despite part of the absurdity of OmeletteMachine being the confusion and disjointed narrative, it feels like there is more of a storyline promised than is delivered. There is somewhat a sense that there will be parallels to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, given the name of the butcher, yet most of the references made are just that – references. He repeats Hamlet’s famous line ‘to be or not to be’, mentions Ophelia and a tumultuous relationship with his father, yet the analogy ends there. There is little to no character arc, and we learn very little about Mike throughout the piece, with the same themes and gory motifs being repeated throughout.
Additionally, the show itself only lasts around 35 minutes, rendering it more a form of performance art rather than a play. In that respect, though, it is a funny and ridiculous piece of theatre to see. Giacomin is incredibly watchable and his use of physical theatre and props is enjoyable.
The audience is warned about the use of raw chicken and eggs, which are thrown about to create a bloody, messy and sticky stage by the end. Wasting raw food in this way is a controversial aspect of the play, especially the gory nature of whole de-feathered chickens being used and eggs smashed around. Whilst gore in this way is rarely seen and can be appreciated, the lack of development in the storyline means the use of raw chickens feels redundant, and the same thing could probably be achieved with wasting less food. It comes across as being disgusting as a way to add shock value, which feels unjustified.
That being said, OmeletteMachine is still enjoyable to watch and unlike anything I’ve seen. The audience were laughing throughout and Giacomin manages to create an unlikely yet engaging character. Creating a whole piece out of a character which is barely even living (the headless chicken) is a daring move and the VAULT Festival is the perfect place to be able to share this type of experimental theatre.
Created by: Tommaso Giacomin
OMELETTEMACHINE plays as part of VAULT Festival 2023 until 17 March. Further information and bookings can be found here.