Fox at the Old Red Lion Theatre
The cosy space of the Old Red Lion Theatre is the perfect setting for telling an intimate story, and Harrison Rose’s Fox, a look inside the dynamics of a difficult relationship, could find no better venue to draw the audience in. The play, directed by Rupert Hands, is certainly loud enough to attract, but it loses the opportunity to employ subtlety and finesse when describing anxiety and relationship issues.
Stefan (Rhys Whomsley) is an introverted Welsh Londoner with an average job. An awkward speech at his brother’s wedding wins the approval of Rachel (Amanda Vilanova), a girl of Puerto Rican descent whom he considers to be way out of his league. She asks him on a date, and her forward approach makes their relationship move very fast. Before long they are cohabiting in his flat where, aside from domestic squabbles about the bathroom and the dishes, the nighttime cries of foxes frequently wake them up, causing mounting tension and frustration between them.
Rachel turns out to be rude and short-tempered, and her confrontational attitude is intensified by her excessive drinking. Stefan feels helpless as he attempts to hold on to the image he has of her, but they seem unable to understand one another’s needs. The story is told from Stefan’s perspective, who watches Rachel spiral downwards, clueless as to what lies beneath her aggressiveness. The audience remains in the dark, too, as the arguments are never given a strong, valid root, aside from a vague past trauma that is never really explained.
Vilanova and Whomsley do a fair job as the troubled couple, but the monotone rhythm of continuous fights (spread across too many short scenes) offers no stimuli, and the scenarios are often overdramatic. Ultimately, there is nothing original on offer and the audience is presented with no insightful moral or food for thought to ponder. The play professes to be about “love in the modern generation” but it is rather a portrait of an emotionally unstable woman whose inner life is left out of the picture, leaving the audience with little to analyse or connect with.
The set is minimal, but the lighting is used to outline the stage as well as each individual prop lying on the floor (mainly drinks consumed by Rachel). The characters occasionally use a microphone to share their inner thoughts, but this is dispersive rather than insightful, as random anecdotes are sometimes introduced and not taken further. Fox deals with a theme that will likely spark interest for many, but unfortunately it sticks with basic elements that never develop into anything profound.
Photo: Lidia Crisafulli
Fox is at the Old Red Lion Theatre from 26th September until 14th October 2017. For further information or to book visit the Old Red Lion Theatre website here.