In this theatrical era when the popular ninety-minute wonders hold sway, it is unusual to see a play with two intermissions, which was pretty much standard in the mid-Twentieth Century, and only O’Neill to my recollection went as far as four intermissions with his magnum opus, A Long Day’s Journey into Night. The Antaeus production of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes benefitted from its two ten-minute intermissions. I was glad for the opportunity to get up, walk around and talk about what I had just experienced with my smart, insightful companion. In a superb display of theatrical art, keenly directed by Cameron Watson, a uniformly brilliant cast delivers an utterly absorbing, high-tension depiction of a family rife with greed, cruelty, mendacity, double-dealing, and, ultimately, criminality.
The scene is set in the Alabama of 1900, and the action is played out in the upscale living room of the Giddens family, where the wealthy Hubbard brothers, Benjamin (Mike McShane) and Oscar (Rob Nagle), are closing a deal with Chicago businessman William Marshall (Timothy Adam Venable), a joint partnership that, if consummated, promises an exponential growth in income. Vital to the deal is the participation of their brother-in-law, Horace Giddens (John DeMita), who is fighting heart disease in a Baltimore Hospital. The key player in this domestic drama is Horace’s wife and sister of the Hubbards, the coldly attractive Regina Hubbard Giddens (Deborah Puette), a smoldering stew of disaffection and ambition, who sees the deal as her passport out of stifling Alabama. She yearns to live the high life in Chicago, but needs the participation of her sick, absent husband. Fleshing out the family are Oscar’s brow beaten wife, Birdie (Jocelyn Towne), a flighty woman from an aristocratic family that fortune hunting Oscar used as a stepping stone to wealth, and Regina’s daughter, Alexandra (Kristin Couture), a teenaged innocent caught up in the machinations. Rounding out the cast is Oscar’s ne’er-do-well son, Leo (Calvin Picou), and noble, loyal servants, Addie (Judy Louise Johnson) and Cal (William L. Warren).
The depth and subtlety that this cast achieves moment to moment throughout the play is extraordinary. The emotional tension ratchets steadily up making those intermissions a blessed relief giving the audience a break with time to reflect on the action.
The richness and details of the physical production are brilliant in all aspects. Scenic Designer John Iacovelli’s set, illuminated with elegant subtlety by lighting designer Jared A. Sayeg, is satisfyingly rich, and is fleshed out in detail by props master David Saewert. Costumes by Terri A. Lewis are period perfect and support both character and action, as do hair and wigs by designer Jessica Mills. Completing the artistic staff are sound designer Jeff Gardner, composer Ellen Mandel, and dialect coach Michael Thomas Walker. Production stage manager Taylor Anne Cullen makes everything run smoothly.
The Antaeus Theatre Company production of Lillian Hellman’s The Little Foxes is utterly spellbinding. The evening flies by. Do not miss this show! It runs through December 10 at the Kiki & David Gindler Performing Arts Center, 110 East Broadway in Glendale.