BWW Reviews: Mildred's Umbrella Theater Company's FOXFINDER Brims With Insight and Intrigue
Direction by Matt Huff makes the thought-provoking thematic elements readily accessible for audiences. He has coached his cast through intense and heavy silences and powerfully delivered lines to ensure the weighty and inspired material is given decisive force through well-planned but believable deliveries. For instance, Matt Huff ensures that no one misses the repetition of "foxes are sly, everybody knows that," emphasizing how deeply the propaganda against foxes runs. He also doesn't artificially color the purposefully ambiguous metaphor of the fox, letting the audience find meaning in the play by completing the picture for themselves. Likewise, emotions are conveyed with affecting conviction to deeply draw the audience into the drama's CRUCIBLE-like witch-hunt for information.
Conversely, Matt Huff's staging of the production fails the powerful script. Dawn King has written film-like short scenes that clip along. By not having clearly demarcated portions of the stage for the common key locations in the production, the audience must sit through the cast moving the set's central table and chairs back and forth from the back wall of the stage. Even though these set changes are not lengthy themselves, they are just long enough to cause lulls in the production that never truly allows this script to reveal its full potential. Instead, audiences are given a 90-minute production that seems to plod along like the ball that bounces from word to word on a sing-a-long video. To clearly mark a portion of the stage for each of recurring locales so that the transitions between scenes could be just a couple of brief seconds would better suit the urgency and pacing of the play.Patricia Duran brings remarkable life to Judith Covey, who is caught between her husband and William the foxfinder. In private, William remarks that she is "an unusually brave woman or a desperate one," which beautifully sums up the way Patricia Duran brings Judith to life on stage. The audience notices her resolve and is moved by her desires to show that The Farm is capable of getting back on track. Likewise, her optimism is grounded in her intuition, deft discernment, and nurturing heart, giving her a reason to be hopeful that all can and will be well again. Patricia Duran's stirring commitment to Judith's strength keeps the drama moving toward its unsettling climax.
As Samuel Covey, Bobby Haworth is morose and angry. He wears his heart on his sleeve and is suffering emotionally and physically because of the traumatic spring his family endured. Still reeling from the drowning of his four-year-old son, he is not ready to welcome the foxfinder into his home or be a part of the government's investigation of his farm. As the play progresses, Bobby Haworth masterfully traverses Samuel's touching arc and expertly highlights the life-altering cleansing that belief in something can offer to those who are ruined.Kevin Lusignolo capably plays William Bloor, the foxfinder. His William is not often personable because he hides behind his professionalism, keeping a cold distance from the Coveys. Essentially, his interactions with them are tinged with an awkwardness that is birthed in his inability to read social cues, which is only made more apparent when he communicates in clichés. As his character changes, he deftly explores the transformative power that becoming informed can have on one's preconceived notions of what is reality and what is fiction.