My first play of 2012 is a new offering written by Tash Fairbanks and Toby Wharton, the latter being a first time writer. It's called Fog - the nickname of the central character (played by Wharton) who has just moved into a new council flat with his dad Cannon (Victor Gardener). Cannon has returned from active service in the armed forces having abandoned into care Fog and his sister Lou (Annie Hemingway) when their mother died.
At first things seem to work out between father and son but the cracks soon begin to appear. Fog has had a difficult and troubled time in care and is scarred by the experience. He struggles with his own identity easily following others lead while in private he fantasises about being a powerful 'big man'.
His ambitions lie in small time drug dealing, smoking pot and getting a nice car to drive around in. Cannon is obsessed with finding Lou to complete the family reunion and quickly grows disappointed with his son's lack of ambition and his own inability to find a good job. Life after his return isn't quite as he imagined.
Meanwhile Fog's black friend Michael (Benjamin Crawley) and his sister Bernice (Kanga Tanikye-Buah) are on the up. Michael is studying to get into university and Bernice is in line for promotion.
When Lou finally reappears the full truth about what happened to the siblings in care emerges and Cannon comes face to face with the consequences of his abandonment.
On the back of the play text it says Fog is about two contrasting families one white and dysfunctional and one black and aspirational but I don't think this is its strength or really the heart of it. It is Fog's story and a story about the impact of abandonment and the care system.
Fog's dislocation and neediness beneath the veneer of street cred is, on reflection, heartbreaking and Bernice's dislike of Fog and Lou certainly adds intrigue about their troubled past. But the disintegrating relationship between Fog and Michael feels like an unnecessary contrivance that detracts from the central plot. As a result the revelations about Fog and his sister's past feel less shocking than it should.
It is otherwise a promising script, well acted and engaging enough but it doesn't quite feel like it fulfils its full potential.
I'm going to give Fog three and a half stars. It runs at the Finborough until January 28