I was uncertain what to expect when I walked into the theatre; the synopsis of this play gives little away. A “tense and atmospheric parable”. This is certainly not a lie. The play is tense, and I was often unsure what direction the plot would next take. However, for all its twists, the plot is amazingly uncomplicated, forming a perfect circle.
As a parable it also works well; it seems an apt comparison for a police state. Yet, while being set in this wider context of a vividly imagined parallel Britain, King zooms in, focussing not simply on a small farming community, but upon the individual and their psychology, a focus very much intensified by the small cast.
As a parable it also works well; it seems an apt comparison for a police state.
James Gooderson played a great William Bloor, the powerful yet young, inexperienced and uncertain Foxfinder, which looked like a difficult to part to play. Jessica McNamee, after a quiet start, quickly warmed up to the role of Judith Covey, the brave, yet so utterly lost and helpless, farmer’s wife. Chris Trueman made a smooth transition to the magnificently simple, yet ever so complex character of her husband, Samuel Covey. And Sian Beaven made a fantastic Sarah Box, the conflicted neighbour.
Costume was also great, with the farmers in their stereotypical wellington boots – perhaps too clean for realism. Bloor’s straight, official suit gradually became more creased as the play progressed, and I feel this suited the character’s progression – or perhaps regression – well. I also appreciated the hairstyles of the two female actors; an unusual style fitting with the idea of a parallel world, an attractive style suitable for some aspects of the play, and also a style which could reflect the stressed and hard-working nature of the characters.
Whilst I enjoyed the plot and the acting, I was less fond of the staging. The majority of the play was set indoors, and the layout for this was well done. I especially liked the way the second room was done, near-invisible unless lit. However, several scenes took place out of doors and I felt that the indoor props detracted from the suspension of disbelief that the action was now taking place in a field, not a kitchen. The moving of props also seemed a laborious task, and distracted my attention away from the main action.
Whilst I enjoyed the plot and the acting, I was less fond of the staging.
In addition, the exit doors were awkwardly placed. Bloor’s entrance was hidden from the majority of the audience, and while this was perhaps intentionally done, it was not to my taste. Furthermore, actors were constantly exiting through one door, before scooting across the stage to enter from another. Like the moving of the props, although both were completed with lights dimmed, the process seemed laborious, over-complicated and disorientating for myself as a member of the audience.
Having said, all in all, I enjoyed the play and would certainly recommend it to a friend.
Larissa A. Ransom
Foxfinder is showing at The Nottingham New Theatre until Saturday, 2nd November. To reserve tickets, click here.