Theatre de Complicité, Foe

Review in Issue 8-2 | Summer 1996

Theatre de Complicite are to be admired for not always following the winning formula of previously successful shows. Foe took the company into areas which are challenging for their newfound mainstream audience. It is unfortunate therefore that the show was less successful. Street of Crocodiles took two years of reworking to find its winning format. Foe deserves to be re-worked, but it seems unlikely that it will be afforded the luxury.

Foe was an interesting piece, if somewhat misconceived and clearly problematic for both actors and audience. It lacked a central drive; a hook to capture the audience and take them to the heart of its world. The actors, battling against a repetitive and overlong script and clumsy set, looked uncomfortable and unconvincing. The weight of the play and the focus of the narrative thrust fell mostly on the usually capable shoulders of Kathryn Hunter. As Susan Barton – the other ‘strandee’ on the desert island that William Defoe neglected to write about in Robinson Crusoe – Kathryn Hunter trod a fine line between hysteria and whinging.

The remaining characters failed to fill out and inspire the imagination. Instead of adding depth and intrigue through their silence, they were merely bland and uninteresting. Friday was patronisingly portrayed as the ‘noble savage’. His stylised movements were empty, lacking the power and feeling of his ancestry. Foe was ultimately a frustrating show. Everyone knows Complicite are talented. On this occasion their talent was unfortunately not in evidence.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Apr 1996

This article in the magazine

Issue 8-2
p. 22