The Fabulist Fox Sister, Southwark Playhouse (online) - ★★★ - December 4 & 5, 2020


The Fabulist Fox Sister recounts the somewhat dark tale of the notorious medium in the late 1800s, Kate Fox, who was famous enough to have numbered world leaders among her fans. Writers Luke Bateman and Michael Conley's fascinating 70 minute show is very ably directed by Adam Lenson and stylishly set by Libby Todd. The Fox sisters from Hydesville, New York, began by deceiving people into believing that they could communicate with the dead. As portrayed by Conley and Bateman, Kate Fox, the protagonist, doesn't come across as a pleasant woman as she entraps her audience and rapidly becomes embroiled with the loves of her life: Jim Beam and Glen Livet. The show follows her true biography closely and does not try to elicit our sympathy or pull any punches. Fox is without compassion and gleefully delights in the death of her husband, while she also hates living with her children. At the end, burnt out and broke, she finally decides to come clean about her deception. Yet to the last, she continues to miss the adulation even as she dies in penury. A number of the songs are powerful, even reminiscent of Mama Rose in "Gypsy," but with a great deal of underlying bitterness. Although some of the modern swearing jars, clever wordplay keeps everything bubbling along, and Michael Conley works remarkably hard as Fox. Still, it is difficult to care very much about this deeply unhappy medium whose motto appears to be 'lie often enough and people will think it is true – even you.'

Rated: ★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Jane Hobson.

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