Reviewed by Ronnie Haydon in Time Out, May 17th 2000
The daft chicken, and his fabled neurosis about the sky's stability,
is worked into a saga of bread-baking and fox-foiling in this homespun
piece for three-to-six-year-olds. A one-man and several-puppet show
from the innovative storytelling outfit Dynamic New Animation, it's
cuddly farmyard friends are brought to life in an avuncular narrative
and a attractively rustic set: all good wholesome fun for new theatregoers.
The egg comes first. It's the egg that performer Adam Bennett breaks
during a juggling break from making bread. Having fetched another
from a handy chicken-coop, he breaks a fluffy chicken into his bowl
of flour and the whole sky-falling-in business begins. Conducting
proceedings from his kitchen table, the impressively coordingated
Bennett oversees the Chicken Licken's persuading of gullible poultry
acquaintances Henny Penny, Turkey Lurkey et al, by means of shadow
puppetry until Fox becomes involved. Compared to the various forms
of glove and hand puppet used for other animals, the wild-eyed fox
fur puppet that plays the predator seems large and threatening.
Bennett's vigorous manipulation of Fox induces an outbreak of lap-climbing
and shrieking from children of a more nervous disposition, but most
are delighted by the change of pace inspired by the hunter.
His malign prescence is also required in the Little Red Hen story
grafted on the the Chicken Licken one, which brings back the baking
motif. Pretty Red Hen grows her grain and bakes her bread, helped
along by masterchef Bennett. Throughout the show, this laid back
storyteller divides his time between building a rapport with his
young audience and attending to his puppet livestock; his confident
approach to the demands of both is what makes Chicken Licken work.