The Little Foxes
"Catch us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes." – Song of Solomon 2:15, New King James Version
I come to this review of The Little Foxes with two established prejudices. I acted in a production of The Little Foxes many years ago and I’m from the south.
The Cleveland Play House offers a stunning production of Lillian Hellman’s masterpiece. The play may be 75 years old, but the script is as timely today as it was when it first opened on Broadway, with Tallulah Bankhead as Regina. The story concerns the Hubbard family: Regina (Maggie Lacey), Oscar (Jerry Richardson) and Benjamin (Cameron Folmar). Oscar and Benjamin inherited their father’s estate. Regina, the girl, survives on the money of her husband Horace Giddens, who is ill and, for the most part, confined to a wheelchair.
The span of the Hubbard’s lifetime, from the end of the Civil War to the stock market crash of 1929, was called the Gilded Age by Mark Twain. The promise of the fortune a cotton mill can bring to the Hubbard family rests on Regina getting her portion of the investment from Horace. The story involves theft, greed and soul-searing family battles. In The little Foxes everyone knows where the family skeletons are buried. The family’s servants have been with the family long enough to know all of the Hubbard’s history.
The cast is excellent. Maggie Lacey, Jerry Richardson and Cameron Folmar keep the pot boiling better than any witch could in Macbeth. This unholy threesome is motivated by greed. Oscar married Birdie (Heather Anderson Boll) for her family’s estate. They plot a marriage between Alexandra (Megan King), who is the daughter of Horace and Regina, and her cousin Leo Hubbard (Nick Barbato), the son of Oscar and Birdie. Marriage in the early 1900s could often combine estates and wealth (think of various royal families).
Leo, who works in the local bank, opens Horace’s safety deposit box and discovers a fortune in railroad stock. That fortune could make the cotton mill a reality.
Arthur Miller wrote that any play is about how the "chickens come home to roost." And, in the third act of The Little Foxes the chickens come home to roost with a vengeance. The time has come for payback, even if it includes death and/or murder.
Lex Liang (Scenic and Costume Designer) created an elegant living room for Regina’s home. The room has a large, imposing stairway from a gallery on the second floor. The walls, windows and furniture represent the best of the Gilded Age.
Liang designed the costumes and made them colorful and elegant if not exactly historically accurate.
Laura Kepley (Director) did an excellent job of helping her cast create intriguing and distinct characters. She never lets her actors or the audience forget the story is about greed and on-going southern traditions of having the expansive house, expensive clothes and well-trained servants
This excellent production of The Little Foxes commemorates the 75 years since the show opened on Broadway. Lillian Hellman (playwright) in her various autobiographies, wrote about how her family squabbled about money. Certainly, The Little Foxes is partially autobiographical. The show runs through October 5, 2014, in the Allen Theater. For ticket information, call 1-216-241-6000 or visit www.clevelandplayhouse.com.
Addie: Sherrie Tolliver
- David Ritchey