No Milk for the Foxes
Camden Peoples’ Theatre
22 April 2015
Review by James Garden
It’s that time of year—for political theatre to come out in full swing and shout from the mountain tops that the Tories must go. Or at least that’s what the preponderance of political theatre seems to say. (If someone wrote an explicitly pro-Tory play, that wasn’t based on personality winning an audience, it might be groundbreaking, if utterly misguided.)
But this may be why No Milk for the Foxes, though extremely inventive and finely produced, feels like well-trodden territory. Conrad Murray and Paul Cree, the pieces devisers and performers, have certainly invented an interesting world—two security guards discussing the state of their world. The work feels something between “Chav(ish) Waiting For Godot” and the state of the nation speech by the gardeners in Shakespeare’s Richard II– which certainly is an intriguing premise.
The live beatboxing mixed with the very current foot-loop live song production, as found in the work of artists like Imogen Heap and cellist Zoe Keating is particularly effective at evoking the desperate mood of the characters. The two performers craft their characters effortlessly and their comedic timing is second to none. The mix of naturalism, designed by Rosalind Russell, and Simeon Miller’s expressionist lighting are particularly effective at creating the world of the play.
However, the piece unfortunately feels like there’s something lacking—almost as if it suffers from the same lack of direction of Labour throughout the coalition. As many might remember from the city-wide TUC march at the start of the Tory austerity measures, Milliband and Labour kept bandying about the idea for the “March For The Alternative” and all of us good lefties raised our fists saying “Yeah, mate!” without actually demanding really specific alternatives to the status quo.
Like successful political parties, the best political theatre does more than elucidate a problem, but rather gives some sort of positive vision for the future. We all pretty much “know,” to varying extents, that zero-hour contracts, and somewhat useless jobcentre coaches are hurting the “salt of the earth” masses of the UK. And if the masses perhaps don’t know their own plight in such a succinct way, the average audience member of The Camden Peoples’ Theatre certainly does.
No Milk for the Foxes is a solid piece of theatre preaching to the leftie middle class choir but ultimately that choir needs more a little more than “Aren’t we all a bit screwed? Let’s talk about how screwed we all are” for its political work to be truly worthwhile.