Nick Le Mesurier reviews Foxfinder at the Loft Theatre, Leamington
Foxfinder is not a play for children. We’re in a dystopian world, set in England “soon”, where a government has the country in a permanent state of alert. Factory workers have a life expectancy of three years, city folk get by on starvation rations. We never know why. But in the countryside, where this play is set, people are luckier. They have food, but they must produce it to strict quotas or lose their farms. The enemy here is the fox, which though it is virtually extinct must be hunted down, as witches once were by men specially qualified to find them.
Enter William Bloor (Ed Statham), a foxfinder trained almost from birth to carry out his mission. He’s a weedy nerd, a social and sexual inadequate, but he has power of life and death over Judith and Sam Covey (Elizabeth Morris, Craig Shelton) and their neighbour Sarah Box (Charlotte Froud). He arrives one dark night and proceeds to tear their lives apart with his investigations into every corner of their lives. Guilty secrets emerge and become proof of his mad beliefs.
If all this sounds weird, during the hour and a half the play runs it all becomes horribly plausible. You only have to substitute for fox the words Jew, or heretic, or illegal immigrant, or any outsider of your choice, and you begin to see how close is the culture of fear on which this brilliant, unnerving play depends.
The acting couldn't have been better, nor the tension racked higher. For sheer dramatic power as well as prescience, this play comes highly recommended.
* Foxfinder runs until Saturday May 12. Visit loft-theatre.co.uk to book.