by Dawn King.
Finborough Theatre above The Finborough Wine Café 118 Finborough Road SW10 9ED To 23 December 2011.
Tue-Sat 8.30pm Mat Sat 3pm.
Runs 1hr 40min No interval.
performances sold out.
TICKETS: 0844 847 1652 (24hr no booking fee).
Review: Timothy Ramsden 17 December.
Tightly-turned screw in compelling new drama.
There’s a story that when playwright Arthur Miller was brought before the House Committee on Un-American Activities for possible left-wing subversion, a politician offered to get him off the hook in return for being photographed with Mrs Miller, film-star Marilyn Monroe.
Miller said no. But he was lucky. In Dawn King’s play, with its echoes of Miller’s The Crucible, English farmer Sam Covey finds 19-year old Foxfinder William Bloor spread-eagled over his wife, who’s buying him off with sex.
Foxes in this England are what the bourgeoisie was to Soviet Russia or Communists to fifties America; a contaminating influence whose allies must be searched-out and destroyed. Friendships are strained, fear leads to flight and samizdat propaganda is rooted-out in searches by the politely insistent Bloor, whose strange innocence twists replies into support for his suspicions, while he’s certain that working for his country justifies covert intrusion into people’s lives.
King maintains an unlikely idea: foxes threatening national self-sufficiency in food. Yet how many farmers ally themselves with foxes – its Townies that cry over them? But she develops the situation, showing officialdom instilling fear.
At 19, Bloor knows little of life. Taken, Maoist-style, as a state orphan aged 5, he shows the damage an austere upbringing based on principles without individual love can do, as he undertakes his Stalinist search of farms falling beneath their production quota.
It’s a very English Stalinism, but its threat is clear at the Finborough thanks to four fine performances. Tom Byam Shaw finds anger and human complexity within Bloor’s cool certainty, while Kirsty Besterman expresses tight-wound tension and the starved maternal concern William mistakes for desire.
Becci Gemmell’s neighbour at first shows a contrasting optimism; it converts to the active response of someone not weighed down with the Coveys’ marital preoccupations (which echo The Crucible’s Proctors).
And Gyuri Sarossy charts Samuel from stolidity to crazed intensity in Blanche McIntyre’s production, which maintains its own intensity, not least at the opening and the fox-hunting scene with their sustained silences. It’s a quality amplified by the colour-free bareness of James Perkins’ set and Gary Bowman’s tightly-focused lighting.
Samuel Covey: Gyuri Sarossy.
Judith Covey: Kirsty Besterman.
William Bloor: Tom Byam Shaw.
Sarah Box: Becci Gemmell.
Director: Blanche McIntyre.
Designer: James Perkins.
Lighting: Gary Bowman.
Sound: George Dennis.
Costume: Joanna Reif.
Assistant director: Veronica Quilligan.