Foxes are everywhere in London, but it seems like I am not the only one who wants to have one as a friend. This was the premise of ‘First Love Is The Revolution’, a new play by Rita Kalnejais at Soho Theatre. This remarkable play was naturally about, first love, but also the things we will do for that love. Furthermore there was much about the instincts of animals and their inter-connection in the great battle of life and death in the animal kingdom.
A family of foxes’ youngest female is caught and then befriended by an awkward boy struggling with his teenage years and split parents. Having still not quite mastered the art of the kill, the inexperienced cub is caught by the boy’s trap. Originally set to catch a fox so he could make a fox fur for his mother, the boy is won over by the cub and their relationship develops. Form the fox family’s perspective she has been partly tamed as she is now receiving food from the boy. From here begins a relationship of first love.
Dark, moving and funny, this piece could be summed up by the tragedy of mother fox’s line about the deceased father fox who was killed when hit by a car. “HE’S NOT HERE BECAUSE HE COULDN’T RESIST A FUCKING KEBAB!’ This naturally brought laughs from the crowd, but there was a dark edge to it in this moment of sadness. This play threw up many moments like this.
The climax of this piece was dramatic and bloody and left us all in complete shock. I mean, seeing a young couple making out on the sofa is one thing, but when you fully understand the girl to be a fox, it takes on a completely different meaning.
This show was fascinating in its use of animal characters who were portrayed by actors dressed normally, but showing the signs and mannerisms of the animals. It really was expertly expressed by the fox characters who could not use their thumbs, the mother constantly pawing her young affectionately and the nose nuzzling between each other.
This play was extremely well cast with Soho Theatre stalwart Simon Kunz, and Hayley Carmichael taking the roles of human father and fox mother respectively. Both delivered exceptional performances in their two different parent figures, not to mention their hysterical time as chickens. The younger actors, some fresh faced out of drama school were exceptional too, giving incredible physical and dramatic performances. Emily Burnett, Samson Kayo, Lucy McCormick and James Tarpey made up this awesome foursome.
A fantastic play from Aussie playwright Rita Kalenjais. We will certainly be looking out for her future work. Well done to Steve Marmion for his excellent directing to shape this into the piece we saw, fittingly on #LoveTheatreDay. A special mention to Aline David for her tremendous movement direction. If you’re gonna see one show this month – make it this one! Showing at Soho Theatre until the 21st November. Hopefully they extend its run, or transfer it somewhere, as I for one would love to see this again!
Dramatic highlight of the show – the introduction to the other animals including the arrival of the cat, the dog and the chickens, and of course the play’s violent climax.