It’s amazing what you can accomplish with just a scarf and a hat. And you can do even more than keep warm and look stylish if you happen to have an awesome pair of performers to go along with them. Karim Muasher and Carrie Brown of the group Animal Engine are such a pair. In their striking show Petunia and Chicken, Muasher and Brown extraordinarily become the story they create.
Petunia and Chicken is subtitled in the Fringe Guide as “an epic prairie love story,” a most fitting description of where, what, and how. Taking place on the Nevada prairie, we witness a love story between Petunia, a girl who’s family emigrates to the United states to cultivate the supposedly rich Nevadan land, and Chicken, a neighbor who lives with his grandparents. The two soon become steadfast friends with Petunia. Eventually, however, the only thing standing between their love coming to full fruition is Chicken’s burning desire for adventure and exploration, which takes him away from Petunia.
Though this lovely story is a familiar one- it has a few predictable moments, the wonderfulness of Petunia comes not just from its engaging story, but from the way in which it is told. As the subtitle might lead us to believe, the story is indeed told epically. Muasher and Brown divvy up the characters between the two of them, playing the members of both families as well as the rest of the characters that come along in the story. Each characterization’s refined uniqueness, denoted by subtle changes in the applications of the hat and scarf, allows us to appreciate the story even more than if we were watching a full cast perform the story.
Perhaps most impressive, however, is Muasher and Brown’s portrayals of their surroundings. Using their bodies to create shape and their voices to create accompanying sound effects, they magnificently bring the tale to life. Often one performer will create the environment while the other captures the human aspect of that moment. Performed in the narrow 1334 Main Fringe venue, the intricate simplicity of these representations goes a long way. The combination of solid acting and creative staging make for an enthralling hour.
Petunia and Chicken superbly creates magic with its performers and their voices, a hat, a scarf, two spoons, and its audience member’s hearts.
By: Richard Lowenburg