Review of The Fox: A wickedly hilarious adaptation

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

16 Downloads (Pure)


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

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


Dive into the research topics of 'Review of The Fox: A wickedly hilarious adaptation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this