The Fox In A Forest Dark and Deep (and the Ben Whishaw connection)
I have a slight problem with Neil LaBute's play, which premiered at the Vaudeville on Thursday.
It's not the writing or the story. It's not the acting. It's not even the production. It has more to do with the following question that has bugged me since I saw it: If it was being produced in a smaller theatre and with a far less starrier cast than Matthew Fox and Olivia Williams would I remember it?
Fox and Williams play brother and sister Bobby and Betty. Betty has asked her brother to help her clear out a holiday cabin as it is being rented out (the two spend much of the play putting books in cardboard boxes).
Bobby is a carpenter, he is prickly towards his sister and obviously bears some deep rooted disapproval or resentment maybe even jealousy. Betty is an English professor, married with kids. But as the evening of clearance begins the metaphorical clearing the air begins too and first impressions of brother and sister begin to fade.
We quickly learn that Betty wasn't always the good girl but a teen rebel, an outrageous flirt and promiscuous. Is Bobby's continuing disapproval and moral arrogance justified?
The trailer (below) describes the play as a psychological thriller. And there is defintely an element of mystery and tension there as the two verbally spar, Bobby slowly stripping away the truth about Betty's life. It is played out with a thunderstorm overhead complete with flickering lights and power cuts which reminded me a little, in setting at least, of Deathtrap.
It is really Williams's play and she deftly switches from confident, sure of herself Betty to moments of raw emotional vulnerability. The two actors have great on stage chemistry. Fox, in particular, apart from the odd stumble over lines (this was a preview so that is forgiven), appears natural and assured on stage.
I did enjoy it, but it is one of those 'yep that was good, now what's next?' plays. So it's a tricky one to score. Three seems too low for the quality for the work but four feels generous compared to other four star plays I've seen this year. But, I'm settling on four purely because it has a rock 'soundtrack' and I think it will be the only time I've ever been in a theatre that had Metallica playing over the sound system.
This has to be the most satisfying 6DS I've done so far mainly because I was determined to find a link between Matthew Fox and Mr W. It's a long chain but there is a connection*: Matthew Fox worked with Dominic Monaghan in Lost and Monaghan worked with Martin Csorkas in LOTR who subsequently worked with Rebecca Hall in Twelfth Night at the National who has worked with Paul Jesson, in the Old Vic's The Cherry Orchard and of course Mr Jesson was in Cock with Mr W at the Royal Court. Go on, give me a round of applause.
* There is a second connection in that it was the same casting director for The Cherry Orchard and Hamlet which Mr W starred in.
The Telegraph interviewed Matthew Fox and you can read that here. The play runs until 4 June.