Dawn King

A fox in the surveillance-state henhouse

The American premiere of Dawn King's dystopian tale looks back to the future

There ain’t no foxes.

Haven’t been, it seems, for a long time in this who-knows-how-future England, at least that anybody’s seen. Some untold disaster has occurred – overhunting, environmental catastrophe, war – and life’s turned harsh. People are starving in the cities, where the factories still run but in a crude, dangerous, sweatshop way: you might last three years on the assembly line before it kills you. Hardscrabble farming, as backbreaking as it is, puts you in the lap of luxury in this broken-down land: at least you can get milk and eggs and a little bit of meat to toss in the stewpot. But watch out if your production goes down, because you can be replaced. Something really, really, bad has happened. And somebody – someTHING – is going to have to take the blame.

That’s where the foxes come in (or don’t) in “Foxfinder,” the English writer Dawn King’s dystopian stage drama that is having its American premiere in a taut and tasty production at Artists Repertory Theatre. It’s a four-hander, performed tightly and menacingly under Dámaso Rodriguez’ acute direction, and it revels in the sort of dystopian and post-apocalyptic atmosphere that successfully blends shards of medieval memory with warnings of contemporary disaster just around the corner. The play’s elliptical, a bit like a sci-fi Pinter, and yet it embraces old-fashioned plot: part of the fun in watching it is anticipating which of several possible directions it’ll take as it hurtles toward the finish line. Even more of the fun comes from just soaking in the skill with which the whole thing’s put together.

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