Foxfinder at the Ambassadors Theatre
Foxes are the unseen enemy in a world ruled by paranoia in Dawn King’s dystopian thriller Foxfinder, directed by Rachel O’Riordan. Clearly echoing contemporary tensions regarding Brexit, the climate crisis, political turmoil and internet-fuelled conspiracy theories, the work’s atmosphere of social panic mirrors general 21st-century angst.
Struggling with family tragedies, financial problems and the prospect of losing everything, spouses Samuel and Judith Covey’s (Paul Nicholls and Heida Reed) trials are exacerbated by the intrusion of the Foxfinder, William Bloor (Iwan Rheon) – reminiscent of Inspector Goole in An Inspector Calls – who has identified invisible foxes as the source of all their woes: “The absence of the beast is a sign of its presence”.
That the story takes place in 1984 might be a nod to Orwell’s classic 1984, often cited in comparison to today’s surveillance society. The illusion that foxes are devious conspirators bent on destroying mankind points to the insanity that can grip human psyches en masse. Irrational fear-mongering and scapegoating born of an impulse for a kind of tribal safety in designating a common foe is revealed as ridiculous and dangerous.
Arthur Miller’s The Crucible and Kafka’s The Trial come to mind in light of the narrative’s baseless accusations and blind hysteria. The bleak rural setting highlights an isolation that can lead to disconnection from reality and paranoid thinking – paralleling that created by our current connected but disconnected wired world. The fox is also a metaphor for nature’s wildness, unrestrained libido versus fundamentalist conservatism and obsession with control – also manifested by mankind’s mania with dominating, subverting and destroying the natural environment.
In a stellar, star-studded cast, the actors are top-notch. Award-winner Rheon (Game of Thrones) is much older than his character’s 18 years, but his portrayal of the quasi-masochistic, brooding Bloor is effectively intriguing. Reed is convincing as a stereotypically repressed British woman traumatised by grief, and Nicholls’s troubled Samuel is excellent.
The claustrophobic aura of the piece is heightened by the small stage, and a well-designed set complements the premise of an ordered milieu set adrift by hardship and terror of the unknown. The outside environment encroaches on the crumbling house, symbolising nature’s invasion. A superb orchestra enhances tension and drama with its evocative violins and crescendos.
A well-constructed, entertaining, intriguing, dark thriller, Foxfinder is also a thought-provoking parable that confronts significant political and social dysfunctions, raising important questions.
Photo: Pamela Raith
Foxfinder is at the Ambassadors Theatre from 6th September 2018 until 5th January 2019. Book your tickets here.
Watch the trailer for Foxfinder here: