From the beginning of Foxfinder
, it’s clear we’ve entered an off-kilter world. Even the set is askew: The stage slopes in different directions, and a door frame slants sharply to one side. The first person to come through that door is William Bloor, a government agent who’s traveled to the countryside to investigate a possible fox infestation. As he stands in the rain, tall and wiry and towering over the couple he’s about to interrogate, we know this dystopian world won’t right itself anytime soon. British playwright Dawn King’s Foxfinder
, in its U.S. debut at Artists Rep, is a singular and somewhat slippery piece of theater. Set in rural England, this post-apocalyptic parable finds a couple, Judith and Samuel, faced with floods on their farm and mourning the death of their son. In drops William, an ascetic 19-year-old tasked with annihilating foxes. The dreaded creature has been deemed responsible for destroying farmland—and for disturbing the weather, corrupting minds and fomenting anarchy. Dámaso Rodriguez’s direction plays up the sense of paranoia and foreboding, with an ominous soundscape and disquieting lighting design. In a strong cast, Joshua Weinstein most impresses, playing William not as an unhinged loony or hardened cynic but as a tormented young man who seeks comfort however he can, even in self-flagellation. Though the symbol of the fox wears thin—it’s clearly a scapegoat for all the dangers and fears of an irrational world—King strikes a balance of specificity and mystery that keeps the audience engaged. Foxfinder
has been compared to The Crucible
, but while that play used the Salem witch trials as a metaphor for McCarthyism, King’s tale drops few hints about its bleak context. Still, given our current culture of NSA snoops and imprisoned whistle-blowers, it’s hard not to see the specter of the surveillance state in Foxfinder
—an argument about how we find what we’re looking for, no matter how scant, slippery or strange the evidence.
Artists Repertory TheatrePhone:
1515 SW Morrison St.Website: http://www.artistsrep.org/