Yesterday evening marked my first visit to the Bromley Little Theatre with one of their “in the bar” shows, performed in the intimate space of the sloping-roofed bar area. The play, Foxfinder by Dawn King, is a dystopian tale set in rural England at an unspecified future date, at a time when food is short and farmers such as the Coveys must meet production quotas or be at risk of losing their farms. Sent to assess Samuel and Judith Covey is William Bloor, a foxfinder, whose ultimate aim is to track down foxes – creatures who have taken on almost mythical significance in this new world – supposedly responsible for the troubles the country is facing.
Parallels with the witch-hunts of the seventeenth century are apparent: Bloor is ascetic, almost monk-like, like other foxfinders taken from his parents at a young age and raised in a special orphanage. He has been raised to believe in foxes as the root cause of all the country’s problems, but when a neighbour spreads seditious leaflets claiming that the foxes have all died out and the country must look elsewhere for the reason for its difficulties, he has a hard time adjusting. Meanwhile, Sam, seemingly recovered from the depression he fell into after his young son died in an accident, grows gradually more unhinged.
The play is chilling and atmospheric, made even more so by its ordinary setting – the Coveys live the lives of a typical farming family in rural England. This is an amateur production, but I was extremely impressed by the high standard of performance by each of the four actors in the play, whose Yorkshire accents were also spot on. Megan McGery as Judith was particularly good, but Matt Sharp was also superb as her husband Samuel, while Alex Scotchbrook was convincing as the Foxfinder and Heather Phelps offered strong support as the neighbour Sarah Box.
I’m glad I got a chance to catch this play, and I look forward to enjoying more plays at the Bromley Little Theatre.