Knives in Hens is a brutal fable of awakening consciousness, a study of sex and knowledge that is stark and fierce.
The play is set in a timeless and spartan rural community, where conversation is blunt and functional, a tool like a plough or a knife. When the ploughman Pony Williams tells his wife, the unnamed Young Woman, that she is like a field, the simile makes no sense to her – she has no use for figurative language. But she begins an extraordinary journey towards articulacy, demanding names for the world she sees around her and demanding knowledge that will lead her towards God. At the same time, a threatening love triangle emerges between William, the Young Woman and the reviled village Miller.
The play has a primal and fundamental power, and is widely acknowledged to be a modern Scottish classic. It premiered in 1996 at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh.