Monthly Archive for: ‘January, 2013’

A Bold Production of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”

A Bold Production of Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes”

The Tides Theatre is presenting a brave production of Lillian Hellman’s early 20th century antebellum avariciousness drama “The Little Foxes” updating it to modern times.  My relationship to this melodrama goes back to the summer of 1939 when my parents took me to New York for the World’s Fair.  One night we went to the National Theatre to see the legendary actress Tallulah Bankhead playing Regina and for a child of 13 I was blown away by this performance.

 

Later I saw Anne Bancroft playing the role in 1967 with E.G. Marshall played the role of Oscar and Margaret Leighton playing Birdie.  I also saw the disastrous production of Elizabeth Taylor playing Elizabeth Taylor trying to play Regina.  There was Stockard Channing putting a more human face on the villainous woman later and finally the last time was 2006 when American Conservatory Theatre did an opulent production with Jacqueline Antaramian playing the role of Regina.   Samuel Goldwyn produced the film in 1941 with Bette Davis looking like a witch from “The Wizard of Oz”.

 

This is a story of the greedy southern foxes known as the Hubbard family and greed has never gone out of the style since this is currently happening in today’s world. The actual time of the play was 1900 however director Jennifer Welch presents the drama in today’s world. Each of the members are in for a big win fall of money and each are willing to stab each other in the back for get the biggest piece of pie  which is a lucrative new cotton mill. Leading the pack of “foxes” is Regina Giddens,(Sally Dana) the tactical, new money Clytemnestra at the fulcrum of Hellman’s melodrama.  She possesses the love of a character out of a Lovecraft novel, striking and invincible. There is daughter Alexandra Giddens (Riley Krull) who appears to the exact opposite of her greedy mother.  Rounding out the Gidden’s family is Regina’s husband Horace her high minded but weak-heart husband.

 

Regina’s vampiric brothers are in for a piece of the action also.   There is Regina evasive and quick thinking brother Ben (John Lowell) , Oscar (Brian Trybom) a spineless and scheming bully and Birdie (Amber Collins Crane) Oscar’s unloved, sweet-natured alcoholic wife and their son Leo (Dashiell Hillman) a tongue-tied, self-indulgent individual.    This is one of the great dysfunctional families of the 20th Century.

Sally Dana is excellent as Regina.  She plays the role much more sympatric then the Regina’s I have seen in the past.   She plays the role much like Stockard Channing who had put a human face on the character. You almost felt sorry for her at the end of this two hour and half production.  Riley Krull gives a lovely and poignant performance as the daughter. Aeron Macintyre gives a polish performance as the sickly Horace Giddens.

Bryan Trybom gives a frightening performance as Oscar a gelded sadist who likes to beat up his wife Birdie .Dashiell Hillman is excellent as the inarticulate, hedonistic Leo.  John Lowell is fine as the slippery, fast thinking Ben. Sheila Collins is just right as the amiable servant and mother figure. William Marshall is effective in his small role of Cal.

“The Little Foxes” is performed on an almost bare stage using oblong boxes as stage props.  There is not long staircase for Regina to descend but this production does not need that staircase.  <i>The Little Foxes</i> play through February 23rd at the Tides Theatre, 533 Sutter Street, San Francisco.  For tickets please call 415-399-1322 or on line at www.tidestheatre.org

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