a play with jazz
Chicken was written in Sweden when
Gregory Motton was 23. It was his 6th
play. He was living in Söder in Stockholm
with his wife and 2 year old daughter. It
was later put on in various pubs and small
theatres until it was produced by Kate
Harwood at the Riverside Studios. It was
performed at the same time as the great  
Ionesco's last play, and Gregory Motton
met Ionesco on their mutual first nights.
The old absurdist and the new passing on
the ladder.
Motton-Ionesco-Strindberg when they first met
"Gregory Motton is an absurdist "
Michael Billington
In Chicken part of the absurdity is the cafe owner Pat, an
Irishman who keeps demanding that his waitress “join the
party”. Although clearly based in an English working mans
Chicken's absurdities have some more exotic and real  

Gregory Motton describes that time in an interview with
Nicole Brette;

“We rented our flat from a very cheaply, from a rather strange
little man, a working class Swede with several teeth missing, a
dilapidated but grand flat in the shadow of  Söder's then only
tower block, the Kafkaesque Tax Building. When we arrived
at the flat the owner hadn't really moved out. There were
toothbrushes and shaving things still in the bathroom and so
on. There were two large living rooms with beautiful tile
stoves in their corners.  In one of them there were four or five
cheap wooden desks, a bit like office or school desks, laid out
in the centre of the room, and on each of these desks was a
telephone, just like it was some sort of office. But the phones
weren't wired in, the wires just hung over the edges of the
tables. It was all just pretend. (It was a lot like Ionesco's

, which I had just seen at the Bear And Staff  in
Charring Cross Road, where I had put one of my plays on.
Our paths were to cross again shortly, when I met him when
we both had plays on at the Riverside Studios, a year or so
later). On the tables and in the cupboard, along with other
stationary, were framed portraits of Hitler and Mussolini. We
had the feeling it had been left like that deliberately. As if our
landlord was showing-off that he had a party office. One
Christmas Eve he came round to wish us a happy Christmas,
he was reeking of Sherry and was wearing a huge pair of
Wellington boots that encased his skinny little legs. He was
very drunk , but very friendly both to me and Lotta, even
though I was, and looked like, an immigrant. One of the
friendliest Swedes I had met. We painted the kitchen purple
with yellow dots, he didn't seem to mind.
I wrote
Chicken that Christmas
Across the road was a rather dodgy character who took up
with one of my wife's weirder friends, a sort of twisted mystic
she was, a girl who cried if you used the word “slave”, going
steady with this fat boasting pompous rather elderly man
called by everyone including himself, Kapten Blod, (Captain
Blood). Next to him was  a tiny newsagents
(an English title) which belonged to Björn Borg's  

We were there two years. One day the news paperboy who
delivered Lotta's newspaper, slammed the letter box of each
flat, as he put the paper through, as if to deliberately wake
everyone up. It was 4 am , I was still up, as was my habit. I
looked at the paper, the Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme
had been shot dead that night on the streets of Stockholm, a
mile from our flat, walking home with his wife from the
cinema.  It was the beginning of the end of an era in Sweden.

This was also the time when I made my first acquaintance
with Strindberg in Swedish. I read, a bit haltingly,
The Storm) in a nice old broken copy given to me by my
wife's mother".

Motton went on to translate 12 of Strindberg's plays and win
the Swedish Writers Guild Prize for those translations

Chicken was published by Penguin books, in 1986
Motton-Ionesco-Strindberg when they first met
Motton-Ionesco-Strindberg when they first met
Motton , Ionesco and Strindberg
around the time they  met
The street outside
two of the
appartments rented
by the Mottons in
1983-86. Motton's
wife is visible on the