Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Friday, 19 July 2013
Foxfinder, July 19, 2013 ***1/2
By Dawn King, Red Stitch
Actors Theatre Red Stitch Actors Theatre, St Kilda, July 19 until Aug 17, 2013 Reviewer:
Kate Herbert on July 19, 2013 Stars: ***1/2
Review also published in Herald Sun online and in
print on Sunday July 21, 2013. KH
David Whiteley & Joanne Trentini
onstage rain in Foxfinder, just like the external Melbourne winter downpour,
was caused by bad luck or bad weather, not an insidious, unnatural event
triggered by an infestation of foxes.
playwright Dawn King’s fictional England, foxes are irrationally deemed to be
the cause of all evils yet, despite their evident eradication, a team of bureaucratic
Foxfinders investigates farmers and hunts for any remaining, sly foxes.
(Joanne Trentini) and Samuel’s (David Whiteley) farm suffers calamitous
incidents: their son drowns, their crops fail, food is scarce, Samuel is ill
and, to make things worse, an obsessional Foxfinder (Matthew Whitty) arrives to
inspect their farm for corruption.
Kat Henry directs a strong cast
(Trentini, Whiteley, Whitty, Rosie Lockhart) in King’s eerie, allegorical, 2011
play that portrays a dystopian world in which those who deny the existence or negative
powers of foxes are punished as ‘collaborators’.
With a plot that echoes the witch-hunt
in Arthur Miller’s play, The Crucible, Foxfinder has themes of perpetuation of
false beliefs through brainwashing, fear, guilt, blame and lies, all overseen
by an Orwellian Big Brother-style British nanny state.
The characters and relationships are
compelling but, unlike Miller’s play that criticises US Anti-Communist
hysteria, King’s story lacks a specific target, so it has less social-political
resonance, and the fox metaphor eventually wears thin.
As William the monkish Foxfinder with the
emotional intelligence of a gnat, Whitty cleverly balances boyish naivetè with
menace, and he makes William’s pedantry and irrationality resemble that of a
religious fundamentalist justifying his prejudice and cruelty.
Whiteley is sympathetic, credible and
unpredictable as the gruff, suspicious and grieving farmer, Samuel, who
struggles to understand his son’s death and to save his farm and his marriage.
As his wife Judith, Trentini is feisty
and stoical as she searches for a way to appease the foxfinder and protect her
husband, while Lockhart as her friend Sarah effectively plays a frightened but
Foxfinder spins a good yarn despite its
critical target remaining unspecified.
Directed by Kat Henry
Cast: David Whiteley, Matthew Whitty, Rosie
Lockhart. Joanne Trentini