note: entire contents copyright 2001 by Beverly Creasey
Lyric West always presents American classics in high style. Lillian Hellman's "The Little Foxes" is no exception. As the play opens, Addie the maid is surveying the perfect parlour (designed by Jeff Gardiner) with its two oriental rugs, its tastefully floral Victorian decor, its three velvet and mahogany divans and its brace of silver framed sepia-toned family photographs --- the appointments signalling a Southern family of considerable wealth.
Regina, the female of the Hubbard skulk (as in "a skulk of foxes"...whose matriarch is, of course, a "vixen"!) dreams of besting her greedy brothers...in any endeavor. Hellman offers up several animal metaphors in "Foxes", the most compelling symbol being the defenseless creatures Oscar Hubbard kills for pleasure. His skittish sparrow of a wife named Birdie (!) begs him not to go shooting, but her protestations fall on deaf ears. Oscar is a brute...and a thief. He stole Birdie's innocence and now he has his eye on his brother-in-law's bonds.
Director Ron Ritchell has assembled a crackerjack cast. Kippy Goldfarb makes a chilling Regina, gracious to a fault on the outside and cut throat to the bone. Robert Bonotto melds raw ambition and aggression as Oscar. His abominable treatment of the flighty, alcoholic Birdie makes him a villain we're happy to see get his comeuppance. Lori Glaser gives a luminous performance as Birdie, so fragile she looks as if she will break.
Carol Parker captures the knowing glance of someone who can see through any deception as the stoic maid, Addie. Comic relief is provided by Jensen Auuste as the confused houseman and by Bill Folman as Oscar and Birdie's not so bright, slimy son. Ed Peed gives a larger than life performance as Regina's older, too-clever-by-half brother Ben. Fred Robbins has a sparkling cameo as a shrewd business man from Chicago who allows Regina to work her charm on him.
Adriana Gnap is sweetly spunky as Regina's uncharacteristically kind daughter and John Davin projects a resigned acceptance of his doom as Regina's ailing husband. Seth Bodie's costumes dazzle, especially the rich copper taffeta gown for Regina.
There's something deliciously decadent about watching Hellman's characters get caught in an elaborate steel trap of their own making