Fox and Hound are an exciting name to see in the Fringe Programme. 27 Wagons Full of Cotton was a standout at last year’s Fringe, selling out and garnering rave reviews, and they have a well-received Tennessee Williams double-bill in this year's programme too. So it was with optimism that I sat down to see 1 in 2 Chance, a new production of an original script. The actors put up a brave fight against the roasting heat of the theatre and the illnesses plaguing them, and it's unfortunate that the play fell a little bit flat.
1 in 2 Chance follows the story of Gemma (Helen Fox), a thirty-year-old woman who is diagnosed with the same type of cancer that killed her mother. Through Gemma, we’re introduced to her alcoholic father (Codge Crawford), a seventeen-year-old ovarian cancer patient nicknamed ‘Bambi’ (Ellie Stevens), and a sarcastic nurse named Jude (Steven Carruthers). Interspersed with monologues and asides, we see into each character’s real thoughts as their relationships with each other affect how they see their own journeys. It’s not exactly escapist theatre, but there are a few jokes and light moments to break up the emotional tension.
Along with some very decent writing, Helen Fox is by far the standout in this show. She gives a raw and honest performance as Gemma, often lightening a scene with a well-placed joke or bit of Scottish slang. The other performances in comparison came across as a little inauthentic; Carruthers didn’t quite land the same punches with his humour, and Stevens never seemed to honestly break through her character’s false optimism.
The presentation, too, was slightly awkward and distracting. Minimalist staging has to be smooth and painless to work, and the versatile cupboard Fox and Hound were using was too clunky to justify changing scenes under the lights.
I could forgive most of this, however, if it weren’t for the accompanying music. Just at the climactic moment where Gemma and her father confront each other about his drinking, Ellie Goulding intruded into the scene. It drew me out of what should have been the play’s finest moment and from then on, things never really recovered.
Fox and Hound have better work in them; perhaps on a different day and with some tweaks, this show could really be something to look forward to. It will no doubt strike a chord with many audience members – indeed, I’ve heard a few people say this show brought them to tears. However, on the day I attended, it didn't quite match up to Tennessee Williams.