|Jeremy LeBlanc is all chicken.|
The kids in the sweet, funny new play The Chicken Who Wasn't Chicken, running in Plano through Sunday, February 26, don't know how lucky they are. The script is a new one from Matt Lyle, a former Dallas writer and actor who went on to Second City's writing program in Chicago a few years ago and who now hosts the podcast variety show The City Life Supplement. The play's director is Jeff Swearingen, a gifted comedic actor who starred in two of Lyle's best plays,The Boxer and Hello Human Female. Swearingen now puts on shows with and for kids at Fun House Theatre and Film in Plano, where the chicken play premiered last night.
The kids are lucky because it's evident in their unself-conscious performances and snappy comic timing that they trust their director and understand how to deliver Lyle's fresh, off-kilter comedy. It's an all-youth cast and every young actor on the tiny stage at the Plano Children's Theatre space, even the tiniest chick in the yolk-yellow leotard, hits the punchlines like an old pro. They know how to pull off double-takes. They hold for laughs and don't step on each other's dialogue. That takes a lot of work and focus.
Lyle's plays are all heart and Chicken boils down to a simple love story complicated by a couple of baddies. Mike Chicken (Jeremy LeBlanc) is a video clerk and film buff who recommends his favorite movies, like the romantic A Coop with a View, to his customers. Mike has set his beak for pretty Polly (Kennedy Waterman) but he's too shy to tell her how he feels. Enter two bullies, a pig named Biff (Dalton Walker) and a frog named Ribbit (Jack Waterman), who taunt and tease Mike, trying to leave egg on his face. Mike's boss, Mr. Goat (Madeleine Norton), is no help as defense; he's an old goat who doesn't like to butt in.More »