First performed in 2011 when it won the Papatango New Writing Award, Foxfinder is a fascinating study of fear and paranoia in a dystopian future where the British countryside is teetering on the edge of famine and chaos.
All live in fear of foxes – or the ‘red beast’ which have been propelled from simple vermin into creatures imbued with terrifying power to become a true symbol of evil. Such is the horror the beasts inspire that a department has developed specifically to track them down – and to train a host of ‘foxfinders’ to prosecute those suspected of harbouring them.
On a remote west country farm, Samuel (Steve Anstee) and his wife Judith (Lucie Sherwood) are struggling to make their land productive, while at the same time trying to come to terms with a terrible tragedy for which Samuel blames himself. Into this already charged situation comes William (Benedict Andrew) a severe young man trained and honed for one purpose – to find and destroy foxes.
As William investigates the farm with extreme thoroughness, Samuel becomes infected by his zeal and is eager to find a source for his ill-luck.
Mark Ireson’s production is imbued by its excellent cast with a growing sense of menace from an imagined enemy. The contrast between the rural life with which Judith and Samuel grapple and the urban life from which William comes, is very well drawn. William, at first an ascetic disciple of the Institute, is shown to be in many ways an innocent in a grown up job. His succumbing to at first unknown desires is frightening to behold
With many plot twists and a literally heart stopping final scene, backed by performances of total commitment and intensity, this is a most rewarding play, reminding us of the fragility of our current lives and how an abstract fear can become mainstream reality.
Foxfinder opens at Stanley Halls on Tuesday, April 18 for 5 nights. Tickets can be bought in advance here.
Rehearsal Photographs © Káit Feeney