JOYCE MCMILLAN on FOX ATTACK at Oran Mor, Glasgow, for The Scotsman 30.5.13.
3 stars ***
A GIFTED YOUNG PIANIST called Yi Su returns home very late from a day at college. He seems strained, agitated; and when his mother – who has been waiting for him – starts to tell him about a wild fox that has invaded the house, he is almost unable to listen to her story.
This is Xu Nuo’s Fox Attack, the third and last in the current spring series of New Plays From China, co-produced by the Play, Pie and Pint season with the National Theatre of Scotland and the Confucius Institute; and like the two previous plays, it reflects a near-obsession with a society riven by raging economic inequality, following the colossal economic boom of the last two decades. Fox Attack is the second play in the series to use a hit-and-run accident as its central image, the sense of a wealthy middle class driving on over the crushed lives of the poor; and all three have shown people struggling to live with a society in which money suddenly matters much more than love, ethics or justice.
In Fox Attack, the working-out of the idea is a little weaker than the central thought; Catherine Grosvenor’s English version, directed by Amanda Gaughan, offers us an almost obsessive portrait of a dysfunctional and controlling mother-son relationship, so dramatic and dangerous in itself that the violent incident Yi Su gradually reveals to his mother almost seems like an unnecessary plot complication. Yet there’s plenty to enjoy in Tina Chiang’s touching portrait of a hopelessly over-ambitious mother. And as the image of the fox begins to merge with the haunting figure of Yi Su’s helpless victim, the lovely Suni La, as the fox, crawls out of the walls and onto the stage, the visible embodiment of all that modern China would like to suppress and forget, but yet cannot ignore.