A young girl is missing. Or, as becomes possible as Felix Culpa Theatre Production’s Foxtrot progresses, several girls, seemingly unrelated by circumstance but interconnected via theme. Though a series of short, jarring vignettes, Anthony Maskell’s script drops us in and out of the lives of those directly or indirectly affected by missing persons cases in the blink of an eye.
The script’s form is great fun to watch in practice; it actively encourages the audience to attempt to piece together the stories, only for the dots not to connect. There are ambiguous links between different scenes, but because different actors take on what seems to be the same role, the audience are kept guessing. The show is, in theory, about one girl’s disappearance, but the fragmented and contradicting nature of the scenes and multi-roling suggests that this could be any number of missing girls, and any number of predictable attitudes towards their disappearances.
Perhaps the script is a little too vague – it becomes difficult to maintain care for the characters presented when they are next to impossible to locate elsewhere in the play. The writing is at its strongest when it gets to the heart of the issue. There are some scenes that feel vital to the message of the play (a scene on the train that portrays our often flippantly judgmental attitudes to those in the media is a particular highlight.) Equally, there are some fairly clichéd, naturalistic scenes that feel like they could be easily scrapped from the play. It needs tightening up and refining, but Foxtrot is exciting in its attempts to explore issues in a disjointed way.
The production is at its best when at its most stylised. Those actors who embrace the often stereotypical or larger-than-life nature of their characters in their acting style are those who excel. Marcus Knight-Adams is constantly energetic and brings a refreshing mixture of comedy and darkness to his characters.
There are touching, more realistic performances from the female characters in the play – Hannah Marsters, Mil Coen, and Emilie Finch all handle difficult subjects with great sensitivity and confidence. However, occasionally the play suffers in these better behaved scenes, as the slick movement work and most colourful characters from parallel vignettes overshadow them. The movement work itself is meticulous, and satisfyingly well-rehearsed. The ensemble doesn’t slip up, and, when the movement is used because it is necessary, it adds visual texture to the script.
It feels difficult to figure out what the company are trying to say with Foxtrot; the show flits so quickly from theme to theme that it never really gets round to making a firm enough point about any of them. There are some engaging performances and a consistent aesthetic to the show, but Foxtrot needs to decide its point of view and stick to it before it can achieve its full potential.