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BWW Review: FOXES, Seven Dials Playhouse

A gay relationship fractures a black family

BWW Review: FOXES, Seven Dials Playhouse BWW Review: FOXES, Seven Dials Playhouse Workplaces are keen on defining characteristics and behaviours as 'non-negotiable' - very few are really, they are acts of will, choices made and adhered to with discipline. Nevertheless, the colour of one's skin is non-negotiable, so too an individual's sexuality. But what about one's culture, one's family, one's religion? If they are also non-negotiable, what happens when the real non-negotiables clash with these (as it were) chosen ones?

That dilemma is a key theme in Dexter Flanders' powerful new play Foxes, placing a gay, black London relationship at the heart of a contemporary drama - even in 2022, and regrettably so, that can only be described as a radical choice. Such a description underpins the title of the play - gay, black men, like foxes, confine themselves to the shadows of our city for fear of discovery and exclusion.

Meera is pregnant and thrown out of her home by her Muslim family. Daniel, the father, is a student who lives with his strongly Christian mother, Patricia (not 'Pat' as she makes clear in a well-observed aside) and his upwardly mobile sister, Deena. They do not like Leon, Daniel's loner best friend, but Daniel sticks with him until a fight turns into something more intimate and detonates an explosion back home.

Though the script is good, a play like this requires strong central performances to avoid sliding into soap opera territory. Michael Fatogun and Anyebe Godwin deliver the nuanced portrayals of conflicted men this pressure-cooker of a venue needs - up close, we see the tears, we see the pain, we see the glances pass between them. Godwin's work as Leon, the man who has always been in the closet (and might always be so), is particularly heartbreaking.

There's strong support from the women, Doreene Blackstock, Tosin Alabi and Nemide May lending credibility to the mother, sister and girlfriend respectively, but the parts are a little underwritten, especially Deena, who deserves rather more narrative on her success as a counterpoint to her brother's trauma. This play is a rare example of a drama that could easily run at least half an hour beyond its 95 minutes run time.

The play slightly loses its way in its final act that, though it underlines the fact that all families, like all individuals, tell each other convenient lies in order to get through the days, feels underpowered compared to what went before. Nevertheless, like the dazzling Red Pitch earlier this year, Foxes provides a voice to a community too often marginalised by theatre and demonstrates that the stories that emerge as a result have a universal resonance. More please.

Foxes is at the Seven Dials Playhouse until 11 June

Photo Credit: Lidia Crisafulli

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