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Nick Lehane: Chimpanzee

London International Mime Festival

A large chimpanzee puppet is being operated by two of the three puppeteers

In this extraordinary and heartbreaking puppet play, a life-sized chimpanzee escapes the despair of her captive existence by piecing together memories of her childhood in a human home.

Now from her solitary cage in a biomedical facility, she reminisces about the comfort, curiosity and freedom she had growing up in a human family. Her bleak present-day reality switches into vivid recollections of discovery and delight: scarves float into the air from a storage box, a teacup fascinates, opera music plays, a tiny toy baby is carefully cradled to her chest.

Three highly skilled puppeteers invest feeling, expression and delicately nuanced movement to the beautifully crafted creature of this poignant non-verbal production, which conveys shifts in time and place through haunting sound and lighting. Written and created by Brooklyn-based Nick Lehane, it is distilled from the real stories of apes once fostered into American families only to be abandoned to science as they reach maturity.

1 hour, no interval
Age guidance 12+ (contains flashing lights and scenes that some people may find upsetting. More Information)

LIMF: The Art of Puppetry, Wed 22 Jan
Pre-show talk for Members

Post-show talk, Thu 23 Jan
Free to same-day ticket holders

Presented by the Barbican in association with London International Mime Festival. Supported by The Jim Henson Foundation and Cheryl Henson.


‘Gorgeous … a meticulous, deeply felt memory play‘
New York Magazine
‘A delightful and superlatively moving account of memories and dreams‘
Berkshire Fine Arts

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