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Review: FOX-LIGHT, The Hope Theatre

Review: FOX-LIGHT, The Hope Theatre

It isn't the most genial of playwriting debuts for Barnaby Tobias but this is what Camden Fringe festival is for. It allows artist the space to develop and grow.

Review: FOX-LIGHT, The Hope Theatre Paul Cézanne said that the most seductive thing about art is the personality of the artist himself. Barnaby Tobias's Fox-Light should be an all-consuming, intoxicating picture of the magnetism and irresistibility of two young artists in love with each other and art itself. Unfortunately, that's not it and it isn't the most genial of playwriting debuts. But this is what Camden Fringe festival is for. It allows artists the space to develop and grow.

There is no research on the meaning - or necessity - of art in this debut play; there is no deeper exploration into the human experience; mostly, there is very little appeal in these insufferable, self-important art school snobs and their story. There is no reason why we should follow them from Jay's house party to their unnecessary deaths - except for morbid curiosity.

In 90 never-ending and eye-rolling minutes of stark, unfeeling, pretentious glamourisation of toxic behaviours, Tobias introduces gorgeous, horrible, well-spoken people with a god complex each who talk about nothing. They're essentially the same concept of a person actualised in two genders. No nuance, no introspection.

Jay (portrayed by Tobias himself) is a cocky and vain man whose ambition rules every aspect of his life. He takes pride in his sexual conquests and relishes in being politically incorrect. He also desperately wants to be counterculture, but doesn't have the depth for it. Tess (Martina Rossi) is a posh, snooty, waif-like foreigner who looks down on everything and everyone. They are walking red flags ready to wave in the wind.

Directed by Simon Usher with simplicity and restraint, they address the audience in long streams of consciousness that interrupt one another. Their prose is bleak and cruel, lacking in artistic beauty for most of the show but for rare glimpses of famous poetry and a few brilliant turns of phrase by Tobias.

The main issue we find in Fox-Light is that the playwright tells a lot but shows nothing. He uses language for its shock value devoid of any real content, offering a cynical and frankly pointless story. They feed off of each other's purpose and darkness with a sex-drugs-and-rock'n'roll approach to life until Jay's needs take over and Tess becomes a lifeless sex object.

Orgasms become currency in their relationship and their self-destruction reaches its climax. It's unfortunate how numb and aimless this piece is. Described as a "tar-black dramedy", it sadly lacks humour and the quality of the narrative is the only tragedy in it. It's a first play and definitely not a death sentence, so onwards and upwards.

Fox-Light runs at The Hope Theatre until 7 August as part of Camden Fringe.

From This Author - Cindy Marcolina