by Joan Kane · February 27, 2014
Petunia and Chicken presented by Animal Engine, is part of the Frigid Festival in New York at the Kraine Theater. Written and acted by Carrie Brown and Karim Muasher, it is a two person tale devised from the writings of the American author Willia Cather. Based on her Prairie Trilogy: My Antonia, O’ Pioneers! And Song of the Lark, it tells a story of life on the Great Plains.
Petunia and Chicken is a love story that takes place at the turn of the 20th century when many immigrants moved to the United States to find a better life. Petunia and her parents and brother are from Bohemia. The harsh reality they find in Nebraska is that the land is hard to farm and it is a constant struggle to survive. Chicken, a native boy from the next farm over, meets Petunia and teaches her English. They become friends, have adventures, grow to adulthood, fall in love and separate when Chicken leaves to seek his fortune in the Yukon’s gold rush. Spoiler Alert: When Chicken returns and they are reunited, a happy ending is had by all.
Directed with a firm hand by Melinda Jean Ferraraccio, the performances of Brown and Muasher are deep and solid. The story is performed in the style of Paul Sills’ Story Theater. On a bare stage, with the use of a few objects including a brown bowler hat, a red shawl and a couple of spoons, the audience is taken on a clever, sweet and imaginative journey. Together Brown and Muasher create what seems like a dozen characters, including pets and farm animals and trees and farm implements, bringing the story to life with endearing depth and sweetness. They also work together beautifully using their bodies and physical gestures to create the set and sound scape. Petunia and Chicken is pure fun.