The Little Foxes
Mad Cow Theater
By Lillian Helman
Directed by Tony Simotes
Starring Ame Livingston, Steven Lane, Mark Edward Smith, and Bob Brandenberg
Finally – a Southern Drama not involving alcoholism, homosexuality, or incest. We find ourselves at the turn of the century Alabama. Northern manufacturers face the horror unions and strikes and demands for fair wages. The south provides labor with low expectations and the plantation mentality so carefully cultivated as “Southern Charm.” The Hubbard brothers Oscar (Smith) and Ben (Brandenberg) hatch a clever scheme – get a Massachusetts knitting mill to set up on their plantation. But those crafty Yankees want cash up front, and Oscar and Ben need their third brother Horace (Lane) to pony up the rest. Problem is, he’s sick in Baltimore and his shrewish wife Regina (Livingston) controls access to him. Then we have the ne’er-do-well nephew Leo; he works at bank and uses the master key to peruse the safety deposit boxes, noting Horace’s $77,000 in bearer bonds. The rest of this show is pure Wall Street 101.
Nothing like a good family dust up, is there? The southern setting plays up the clash between supposed gentility and the baser avarice that we all have. While Steven Lane’s Horace is physically weak he has a black heart with an evil plan all his own. Smith and Brandenberg were smug yet desperate; worse, they under estimated a woman’s power. That makes Livingston’s Regina a great antihero: she not only puts the men in their place, she gloats over it and makes them a humiliating offer they must accept. Supporting the drama, we have Roberta Emerson as Addie, the house keeper who won’t be pushed around, and the always subservient and happy Leroy Fleming as Cal, the eternal errand boy. Other good showings come from smarmy Leo; you really want him to get caught and even more so to get a good solid swat to the kisser. Annalise Moon played Alexandra, the proto-alcoholic sister to Regina. Her role was that of the pretty pawn and the perfect southern girl always willing to be pushed around by men. The story works better than I hoped; I was taught “The only topics worth writing about are God, sex and money”, and this show hits two out of three. Not bad math, and much less weepy than Tennessee Williams.