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Michael Barker (The House with Chicken Legs)

Based on Sophie Anderson's much-loved novel, the story follows Marinka, a young girl trying to find her feet when her home is, quite literally, pulled from under her. Marinka dreams of a normal life, where she can stay somewhere long enough to make friends. But there's one problem - her house has chicken legs and moves on without warning. Co-produced by theatre company Les Enfants Terribles and HOME Manchester, and presented in association with Les Enfants Terribles. Currently playing at Southbank Centre until 30th December,

Q) How does it feel to be performing The House with Chicken Legs in London?

I’m particularly excited to perform at the Queen Elizabeth Hall at the Southbank Centre as it is my first time performing on a London stage, so Southbank feels like a pretty incredible place to start! I’d also never previously been to any of the cities we visited on the show’s recent Autumn tour of England and Wales so I really enjoyed that experience too.

Q) What is your character like in the show?

Ben is a kind, unassuming, albeit unusual, young boy. He is incredibly welcoming and open to making friends, but finds himself struggling to fit in with the personalities and social backgrounds of his peers. When he happens upon Marinka he finds himself in awe of the possibility that, maybe, she is not so dissimilar to him.

Q) What are the joys, and the challenges, of your role?

I find the role of Ben really enjoyable to play! Not only is he Scottish in this production, but his oddities and general awkwardness allow a lot of his words to carry accidental humour. He allows me to reminisce on my own awkward teenage years, and I find a lot of joy in bringing him to life.

Q) Do you have a favourite scene or moment in the show?

My personal favourite scene has got to be Yaga House Party! It’s wild, wacky, and truly indescribable - you just have to see it!

Q) How important do you think it is for young people to have access to shows such as The House with Chicken Legs? What do you hope they will take away from the show?

I think it’s incredibly important that young people have access to this show. Through music, puppetry and general pandemonium, the story allows a heartfelt unpacking of the relationship between life, death and how we deal with the universal experience of grief. For young people, I think the escapism and catharsis that can come from this show is invaluable, and I hope they will be able to take away a fresh perspective of the world around them.

Q) What do you think it is about The House with Chicken Legs which makes it so appealing not just to young people and families, but also a wider grown-up audience?

The show unpacks the experience of grief, which is an overwhelmingly difficult and raw experience no matter what age you are. The beauty of this show is that it explores grief in a way that young people can comfortably digest and understand, whilst allowing undertones and subtext that will be more impactful on an older audience. It finds its roots in Slavic folklore, and allows for lessons and wisdom that will stick with you no matter what age you are.


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