Metaphors aside it is difficult to determine whether Foxfinder is supposed to be an atmospheric thriller or a surreal comedy
The Foxfinder of the title is William (Iwan Rheon) sent to examine the farm of Judith (Heida Reed) and Sam (Paul Nicholls) where the crop yield is below target.
In this parallel world of writer Dawn King's invention, it is a time of food shortages and foxes are the bogeyman, the 'source' of all the troubles being creatures with supernatural powers preying on the weak and wreaking havoc wherever they go.
But has William, who has trained for the job since a child, actually seen a fox?
King wrote Foxfinder seven years ago but you can't help but see Brexit metaphors - a threat of food shortages and outsiders to blame for a multitude of ills.
Judith and Sam have had a run of trouble stemming from one date but, despite the obvious, they are fearful of the consequences of questioning the logic behind the Foxfinder's theories.
Who dares question the logic?
There is one person who does question the logic, their neighbour Sarah (Bryony Hannah), but getting caught denouncing the fox propaganda is extremely dangerous.
The set is cleverly designed overlapping interior and exterior to give the scope of the play's setting (see production photos below).
Paul Nicholls is particularly good as a man grasping an idea as a path to personal salvation and Bryony Hannah is fiery as Sarah.
Comedy or thriller
However, the problem with Foxfinder is, metaphors aside, it is difficult to determine whether it is supposed to be an atmospheric thriller or a surreal comedy.
Certainly, its remote, rain-lashed, farm setting with visiting official who has the power to destroy livelihoods on a whim has all the makings of an atmospheric thriller but there are one too many moments (involving messages from rabbits and sheep) that are more silly than creepy.
And while those silly moments raised some laughs they aren't plentiful enough to make it a comedy.
As a result, the play fails to get traction as either a thriller or a comedy.
Fear being manipulated by those in power for their own ends is an interesting theme but perhaps the Brexit landscape makes it a too obvious target - and it's not one that directors and playwrights have been shy in referencing in the past 18 months.
It's two hours long with an interval and I'm giving it ⭐️⭐️⭐️.
Foxfinder is at the Ambassadors Theatre until January 5.
Scroll down for more production pics ⬇️
Also playing in London's theatres:
Misty, Trafalgar Studios - putting the pulse back into the West End.
St Nicholas, Donmar Warehouse - seductive and sad, it revulsed, chilled and gripped.
The Political History of Crack and Smack, Soho Theatre - witty, blunt and poetic