Making his debut at The Old Red Lion, Harrison Rose, brings us Fox, a play about a couple who are clearly not right for each other but try to make it work nonetheless. Directed by Rupert Hands, it looks to examine love and dating in modern times.
The central characters, Stefan and Rachel, see their relationship disintegrate in front of them, as Rachels drinking spirals out of control, and she becomes even more obnoxious than she was to begin with. It jumps around the timeline, giving us a glimpse of the chaos to come before slowly revealing the steps that were taken to get us there.
As Stefan, Rhys Whomsley really grasps his characters motivations, he understands the slightly shy and awkward young man who wishes he could be stronger, only to find that strength in the latter portions of the play. Amanda Vilanova equally, gives Rachel the boldness and venom for us to realise this is a damaged young woman with issues from her past.
Direction from Rupert Hands keeps it moving at a good pace, and it is laid out in a visually appealing manner. The staging feels impressively modern; it opens with the two characters facing each other while a selection of props surrounds them, each prop is outlined in LED lights which switch on and off at various points. A square shape is formed of similar lights and this is where the main action takes place.
Often the characters will break the fourth wall, speaking into a microphone hanging from the ceiling, or the disembodied voices of unseen characters; such as neighbour Cathy or therapist Bill, provide additional plot lines. All of this helps add depth to the story while providing different perspectives. Dan Bottomley’s sound design brings us nice rock interludes, including some classic Fall Out Boy, as well as the screeching foxes, from where the play takes its title.
The breakdown of a relationship is fairly common fodder for a two hander, portraying it out of chronological order is nothing new either. In general, I find these kinds of story arcs pretty boring, for some reason watching a strange couple argue, especially when you know it’s scripted, doesn’t hold a lot of appeal.
Fox is a little different though, while it employs this familiar structure, it does manage to give enough depth to the characters to get you invested. The scenes may be short, but they are punchy and laden with enlightening snippets that expose a different side to modern dating. While Fox may not be entirely unique, it’s an enjoyable play which manages to give the characters plenty of opportunity to be scrutinised.
Photos: Lidia Crisafulli