There is a myth about “the Genteel South” which is very ingrained in American literature and cultural belief. Lillian Hellman explores this myth in her play THE LITTLE FOXES.
Written in 1939, the play is about a southern family from a small town at the turn of the 20th century and their obsession with power, greed and control.
The play’s title comes from Chapter 2 Verse 15 in the Song of Solomon in the King James version of the Bible which reads “Take us the foxes, the little foxes, that spoil the vines: for our vines have tender grapes.”
There are a lot of foxes in this story and not too many tender grapes.
The focus is on southerner Regina Hubbard Giddens, who struggles for wealth and freedom within the confines of an early 20th century society where a father considered only sons as legal heirs. As a result, her avaricious brothers, Benjamin and Oscar, are independently wealthy, while she must rely upon her sickly, crippled, husband Horace for financial support.
The brothers are played with very strong performances by John Pinto as Benjamin Hubbard, a scheming, manipulative and opportunistic user of other people. Doug Kline’s brother Oscar a cruel, physically violent man who is will strike his wife as if swatting a fly away and who is willing to marry off his not-too-bright son Leo to first cousin Alexandra if it will secure the deal going through. Ross Druker as Horace, the missing brother-in-law, is a mixed bag of playfulness with his daughter and frustration bordering on anger with wife Regina.
Mark Swift plays Leo as a bumbler who seems to say and do the wrong thing. Allison Deratzian’s Alexandra is allowed to be innocent until near the end of the play.
The northern businessman William Marshall (Matthew Cassidy) is the carpetbagger hoping to build his empire on the backs of cheap local labor by building a cotton mill, right in the town, to accept the crops grown by the hands on the plantation.
The three women in the play are, at times, overshadowed by the men in their performances. Regina (Theresa Swartz) really needs to stand up to her brothers and shout them down if necessary. Birdie (Virginia Barrie) is generally stronger, as her alcohol abuse frees her to speak what’s on her mind. Alexandra (Allison Deratzian) has a challenging role as her character must go from being the obedient child to a final confrontation with her mother. Neither Regina, nor Alexandra, has quite the power needed in that last scene together that the director’s staging is trying to give them.
Fine supporting performances are given by Cheryl Williams as Addie, the Hubbard’s housekeeper and by Luqman Agiya as the manservant Cal. Agiya needs to be a bit louder and careful to sound the end of sentences, so we can hear him.
THE LITTLE FOXES is riveting drama and director David Swartz, draws you in throughout the ActorsNET production.
Set Design by David Swartz, Lighting by Andrena Wishnie, Sound Design by David Swartz and Ed Correale, Costumes by Cheryl Doyle.
THE LITTLE FOXES
by Lillian Hellman
Directed by David Swartz
June 8-24, 2012
Actors’NET of Bucks County
635 N. Delmorr Ave (Route 32)
Morrisville, PA 19067