Review of The Fox: A wickedly hilarious adaptation

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review

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Abstract

Charles Sturt University’s third year theatre/media students of 2017 have
provided a wicked and hilarious adaptation of Ben Jonson’s The Fox (also known
as Volpone, 1605-6). From the careful stagecraft and punchy music to the clever
set design and memorable acting, this production is smart, witty and quirky. The
comic timing is spot on, elevating this tawdry tale of greed and lust to dizzying
heights of disarming mirth.

The titular lead is played very well by Jesse Alston; a name to remember. His
ownership of the stage is immediate and arresting. We first glimpse him as a
wild party-goer who dramatically collapses face down and ass up on a black
shiny couch. The stage lights and set design usher all eyes toward his derrière.
Our ears are also inundated with the rude sounds of his snoring. From the
get-go Alston’s relaxed body exudes decadence and insouciance. As the bright
white light exposes his semi-naked body we also gain insight into a carefully
colour-schemed, monochrome stage. Every ornament and object matters in
expressing the themes of wealth and excess.

Dual black monitors frame the stage, doubling up as mirrors. Jordon Russell’s AV
Design is especially creative, using these props as a means to project images that enhance the stage design as well as propelling the narrative. When monitors reflect a bad TV reception we are cued to prepare for a swift scene change. They are also used as surveillance cameras, setting the entrance of another greedy merchant in pursuit of Volpone’s fortune.

Courtney Elizabeth’s interpretation of the elderly Corbaccio is particularly
stunning as she struts her stuff in an all-white costume reeking of Sydney North
Shore wealth. Her obsession with her iPad evokes the blindness of an age in the
thrall of social media. The world of black mirrors encompasses both characters
and audiences alike – while most had iPhones on mute, one audience member
left theirs on, which made one temporarily wonder if this was another clever
stage ploy.

Adam Deusien’s Director’s Notes assert that ‘today a new type of wealthy elite
has risen to power on the promise of various kinds of greatness.’ We are
reminded that the will to succeed – typically understood as an exclusively
positive trait – often involves the manipulation or usurpation of others and is
very much wedded to the values of late capitalism.

The three Fools – Castrone (Liam Jones), Nano (Abbey Bamford) and Androgyno
(Rebekka Manns) – are also outstanding to the point that they threaten to
overshadow the leading duo of Volpone and his servant Mosca (Hudson Emery).
Their fabulous lip-sync of Dolly Parton’s famous hit '9 to 5' invigorated Charles
Sturt’s Ponton Theatre on a cold, late autumn night.

We are even delighted with a brief infomercial that cleverly transforms Volpone’s
pseudonym ‘Scoto’ into a seductive oil: ‘just ring 1-800-Scoto’. If the word ‘scoto’
is evocative of male genitalia, well this is visually evoked, as it is used as a balm
of seduction.

Director Adam Deusien expresses a rare optimism in suggesting that the Fools
operate as ‘equalising mechanisms’ to injustice and suggests that we all be fools
if inequality is appeased. Such sentiments are refreshing, especially in a political
and social climate where extremism in all its forms – racial intolerance, excessive
corporate wealth as well as terrorism and the powerful fear of it – seems to
overwhelm.

There is of course a twist in the tail of this black comedy, where the fox is going
to be outfoxed. But in keeping with the structure of Jacobean comedy, all that is
wrong is eventually righted. It would be comforting if life could provide such
neatness. Thankfully, we have art and some very artful actors, set and sound
designers, dramaturges and a talented director to provide temporary escape
into the riotous world of The Fox. This is an ambitious production on grand scale
that it is not to be missed.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationPerforming Artshub
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2017

Fingerprint

Wealth
Monitor
Ear
Decadence
Oil
Costume
Climate
Fortune
Fool
Reception
Seduction
Duo
Optimism
Greed
Jacobean
Monochrome
Injustice
Music
Obsessions
Extremism

Cite this

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title = "Review of The Fox: A wickedly hilarious adaptation",
abstract = "Charles Sturt University’s third year theatre/media students of 2017 haveprovided a wicked and hilarious adaptation of Ben Jonson’s The Fox (also knownas Volpone, 1605-6). From the careful stagecraft and punchy music to the cleverset design and memorable acting, this production is smart, witty and quirky. Thecomic timing is spot on, elevating this tawdry tale of greed and lust to dizzyingheights of disarming mirth.The titular lead is played very well by Jesse Alston; a name to remember. Hisownership of the stage is immediate and arresting. We first glimpse him as awild party-goer who dramatically collapses face down and ass up on a blackshiny couch. The stage lights and set design usher all eyes toward his derri{\`e}re.Our ears are also inundated with the rude sounds of his snoring. From theget-go Alston’s relaxed body exudes decadence and insouciance. As the brightwhite light exposes his semi-naked body we also gain insight into a carefullycolour-schemed, monochrome stage. Every ornament and object matters inexpressing the themes of wealth and excess.Dual black monitors frame the stage, doubling up as mirrors. Jordon Russell’s AVDesign is especially creative, using these props as a means to project images that enhance the stage design as well as propelling the narrative. When monitors reflect a bad TV reception we are cued to prepare for a swift scene change. They are also used as surveillance cameras, setting the entrance of another greedy merchant in pursuit of Volpone’s fortune.Courtney Elizabeth’s interpretation of the elderly Corbaccio is particularlystunning as she struts her stuff in an all-white costume reeking of Sydney NorthShore wealth. Her obsession with her iPad evokes the blindness of an age in thethrall of social media. The world of black mirrors encompasses both charactersand audiences alike – while most had iPhones on mute, one audience memberleft theirs on, which made one temporarily wonder if this was another cleverstage ploy.Adam Deusien’s Director’s Notes assert that ‘today a new type of wealthy elitehas risen to power on the promise of various kinds of greatness.’ We arereminded that the will to succeed – typically understood as an exclusivelypositive trait – often involves the manipulation or usurpation of others and isvery much wedded to the values of late capitalism.The three Fools – Castrone (Liam Jones), Nano (Abbey Bamford) and Androgyno(Rebekka Manns) – are also outstanding to the point that they threaten toovershadow the leading duo of Volpone and his servant Mosca (Hudson Emery).Their fabulous lip-sync of Dolly Parton’s famous hit '9 to 5' invigorated CharlesSturt’s Ponton Theatre on a cold, late autumn night.We are even delighted with a brief infomercial that cleverly transforms Volpone’spseudonym ‘Scoto’ into a seductive oil: ‘just ring 1-800-Scoto’. If the word ‘scoto’is evocative of male genitalia, well this is visually evoked, as it is used as a balmof seduction.Director Adam Deusien expresses a rare optimism in suggesting that the Foolsoperate as ‘equalising mechanisms’ to injustice and suggests that we all be foolsif inequality is appeased. Such sentiments are refreshing, especially in a politicaland social climate where extremism in all its forms – racial intolerance, excessivecorporate wealth as well as terrorism and the powerful fear of it – seems tooverwhelm.There is of course a twist in the tail of this black comedy, where the fox is goingto be outfoxed. But in keeping with the structure of Jacobean comedy, all that iswrong is eventually righted. It would be comforting if life could provide suchneatness. Thankfully, we have art and some very artful actors, set and sounddesigners, dramaturges and a talented director to provide temporary escapeinto the riotous world of The Fox. This is an ambitious production on grand scalethat it is not to be missed.",
keywords = "Ben Jonson, Volpone, Adaptation",
author = "Suzanne Gibson",
note = "Dr Suzie Gibson is a Senior Lecturer at Charles Sturt University",
year = "2017",
month = "5",
day = "24",
language = "English",
journal = "Performing Artshub",

}

Review of The Fox : A wickedly hilarious adaptation. / Gibson, Suzanne.

In: Performing Artshub, 24.05.2017.

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationBook/Film/Article review

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N2 - Charles Sturt University’s third year theatre/media students of 2017 haveprovided a wicked and hilarious adaptation of Ben Jonson’s The Fox (also knownas Volpone, 1605-6). From the careful stagecraft and punchy music to the cleverset design and memorable acting, this production is smart, witty and quirky. Thecomic timing is spot on, elevating this tawdry tale of greed and lust to dizzyingheights of disarming mirth.The titular lead is played very well by Jesse Alston; a name to remember. Hisownership of the stage is immediate and arresting. We first glimpse him as awild party-goer who dramatically collapses face down and ass up on a blackshiny couch. The stage lights and set design usher all eyes toward his derrière.Our ears are also inundated with the rude sounds of his snoring. From theget-go Alston’s relaxed body exudes decadence and insouciance. As the brightwhite light exposes his semi-naked body we also gain insight into a carefullycolour-schemed, monochrome stage. Every ornament and object matters inexpressing the themes of wealth and excess.Dual black monitors frame the stage, doubling up as mirrors. Jordon Russell’s AVDesign is especially creative, using these props as a means to project images that enhance the stage design as well as propelling the narrative. When monitors reflect a bad TV reception we are cued to prepare for a swift scene change. They are also used as surveillance cameras, setting the entrance of another greedy merchant in pursuit of Volpone’s fortune.Courtney Elizabeth’s interpretation of the elderly Corbaccio is particularlystunning as she struts her stuff in an all-white costume reeking of Sydney NorthShore wealth. Her obsession with her iPad evokes the blindness of an age in thethrall of social media. The world of black mirrors encompasses both charactersand audiences alike – while most had iPhones on mute, one audience memberleft theirs on, which made one temporarily wonder if this was another cleverstage ploy.Adam Deusien’s Director’s Notes assert that ‘today a new type of wealthy elitehas risen to power on the promise of various kinds of greatness.’ We arereminded that the will to succeed – typically understood as an exclusivelypositive trait – often involves the manipulation or usurpation of others and isvery much wedded to the values of late capitalism.The three Fools – Castrone (Liam Jones), Nano (Abbey Bamford) and Androgyno(Rebekka Manns) – are also outstanding to the point that they threaten toovershadow the leading duo of Volpone and his servant Mosca (Hudson Emery).Their fabulous lip-sync of Dolly Parton’s famous hit '9 to 5' invigorated CharlesSturt’s Ponton Theatre on a cold, late autumn night.We are even delighted with a brief infomercial that cleverly transforms Volpone’spseudonym ‘Scoto’ into a seductive oil: ‘just ring 1-800-Scoto’. If the word ‘scoto’is evocative of male genitalia, well this is visually evoked, as it is used as a balmof seduction.Director Adam Deusien expresses a rare optimism in suggesting that the Foolsoperate as ‘equalising mechanisms’ to injustice and suggests that we all be foolsif inequality is appeased. Such sentiments are refreshing, especially in a politicaland social climate where extremism in all its forms – racial intolerance, excessivecorporate wealth as well as terrorism and the powerful fear of it – seems tooverwhelm.There is of course a twist in the tail of this black comedy, where the fox is goingto be outfoxed. But in keeping with the structure of Jacobean comedy, all that iswrong is eventually righted. It would be comforting if life could provide suchneatness. Thankfully, we have art and some very artful actors, set and sounddesigners, dramaturges and a talented director to provide temporary escapeinto the riotous world of The Fox. This is an ambitious production on grand scalethat it is not to be missed.

AB - Charles Sturt University’s third year theatre/media students of 2017 haveprovided a wicked and hilarious adaptation of Ben Jonson’s The Fox (also knownas Volpone, 1605-6). From the careful stagecraft and punchy music to the cleverset design and memorable acting, this production is smart, witty and quirky. Thecomic timing is spot on, elevating this tawdry tale of greed and lust to dizzyingheights of disarming mirth.The titular lead is played very well by Jesse Alston; a name to remember. Hisownership of the stage is immediate and arresting. We first glimpse him as awild party-goer who dramatically collapses face down and ass up on a blackshiny couch. The stage lights and set design usher all eyes toward his derrière.Our ears are also inundated with the rude sounds of his snoring. From theget-go Alston’s relaxed body exudes decadence and insouciance. As the brightwhite light exposes his semi-naked body we also gain insight into a carefullycolour-schemed, monochrome stage. Every ornament and object matters inexpressing the themes of wealth and excess.Dual black monitors frame the stage, doubling up as mirrors. Jordon Russell’s AVDesign is especially creative, using these props as a means to project images that enhance the stage design as well as propelling the narrative. When monitors reflect a bad TV reception we are cued to prepare for a swift scene change. They are also used as surveillance cameras, setting the entrance of another greedy merchant in pursuit of Volpone’s fortune.Courtney Elizabeth’s interpretation of the elderly Corbaccio is particularlystunning as she struts her stuff in an all-white costume reeking of Sydney NorthShore wealth. Her obsession with her iPad evokes the blindness of an age in thethrall of social media. The world of black mirrors encompasses both charactersand audiences alike – while most had iPhones on mute, one audience memberleft theirs on, which made one temporarily wonder if this was another cleverstage ploy.Adam Deusien’s Director’s Notes assert that ‘today a new type of wealthy elitehas risen to power on the promise of various kinds of greatness.’ We arereminded that the will to succeed – typically understood as an exclusivelypositive trait – often involves the manipulation or usurpation of others and isvery much wedded to the values of late capitalism.The three Fools – Castrone (Liam Jones), Nano (Abbey Bamford) and Androgyno(Rebekka Manns) – are also outstanding to the point that they threaten toovershadow the leading duo of Volpone and his servant Mosca (Hudson Emery).Their fabulous lip-sync of Dolly Parton’s famous hit '9 to 5' invigorated CharlesSturt’s Ponton Theatre on a cold, late autumn night.We are even delighted with a brief infomercial that cleverly transforms Volpone’spseudonym ‘Scoto’ into a seductive oil: ‘just ring 1-800-Scoto’. If the word ‘scoto’is evocative of male genitalia, well this is visually evoked, as it is used as a balmof seduction.Director Adam Deusien expresses a rare optimism in suggesting that the Foolsoperate as ‘equalising mechanisms’ to injustice and suggests that we all be foolsif inequality is appeased. Such sentiments are refreshing, especially in a politicaland social climate where extremism in all its forms – racial intolerance, excessivecorporate wealth as well as terrorism and the powerful fear of it – seems tooverwhelm.There is of course a twist in the tail of this black comedy, where the fox is goingto be outfoxed. But in keeping with the structure of Jacobean comedy, all that iswrong is eventually righted. It would be comforting if life could provide suchneatness. Thankfully, we have art and some very artful actors, set and sounddesigners, dramaturges and a talented director to provide temporary escapeinto the riotous world of The Fox. This is an ambitious production on grand scalethat it is not to be missed.

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M3 - Book/Film/Article review

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