Welcome Home Captain Fox!**** (Donmar Warehouse)

Posted: March 13, 2016 in Theatre

welcome...I confess to being unfamiliar with Le Voyageur Sans Lugage, a 1936 work by French playwright Jean Anouilh, but here we have it, in a new version by Anthony Weigh, moved in time and place to 1959 on Long Island, New York. The stroke of genius in this production is to present the play in the style of a screwball comedy from the Golden Age of Hollywood, incorporating influences as diverse as Oscar Wilde, Billy Wilder and the Coen Brothers. It all works brilliantly, playing out as something like a slightly more bitter take on The Philadelphia Story with touches of Martin Guerre. It seems a fair bet that director Blanche McIntyre had her company watching American film comedies from the 40s and 50s to perfect their timing and delivery and maybe to mould their performances on stars from that period. A lot of fun comes from guessing which star is suggested by each performance, For example “Gene” (Rory Keenan), the amnesiac war veteran returning to what might be his family after an absence of 15 years could easily be Cary Grant and Mrs Fox (Sian Thomas) his acid-tongued, snobbish would-be mother could only be Bette Davis. Family and supposedly lost son are brought together by the social climbing DuPont-Duforts (George Burns and Gracie Allen?), a warring couple, she (Katherine Kingsley) having previously re-homed dogs and he (Danny Web) being a wife-loathing curmudgeon who just wants someone to take out his garbage. “Gene” begins to question whether he really likes his new/old family very much and, when he unearths some of the misdemeanours of the man that he is supposed to be, he decides that he does not like him at all. The young Mr Fox’s past includes an affair with the drunken Valerie (Fenella Woolgar), his sister-in-law (too lower class for Katherine Hepburn, too sophisticated for Marilyn Monroe, so let’s settle for Grace Kelly). To make matters even more chaotic, 22 other families then come forward to claim “Gene” as their own. So is he or is he not a Fox? This hilarious play culminates in a blissful denouement that sends us all out of the Donmar wearing broad grins of satisfaction.

Performance date: 11 March 2016

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