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Chicken Licken

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.
All text and images © Dynamic New Animation 2002