We’re not talking a heartwarming Skippy scenario here. This is first love, wild and delicate, with fireworks and animal desire, and Sarah Meacham and Bardiya McKinnon, as Rdeca and Basti, bring a breathless wonder to their roles that is utterly convincing. Equally integral to Kalnejais’s densely woven family drama is the raw power of a mother’s love (a stunning performance from Rebecca Massey as Cochineal) and the strange, intimate complicity between hunter and prey. Chickens, foxes, 14-year-old boys. They all love.
The six actors cover an intricate world of roles, animal and human, with dazzling virtuosity. Amy Hack is an itchy fox, a sexy but pragmatic human and a showstopping Smulan the Cat. Guy Simon is a tough fox and a vainglorious dog, using his physicality in perfect balance with his voice. Meanwhile, Matthew Whittet pulls off the biggest transformation of the night, from half-cut Simon to the adorably apologetic Gregor Mole. Meanwhile, the lighting plot (Trent Suidgeest) and inventive set, complete with mole hole and TV (Ella Butler) packs the whole sky and everything beneath it into a pocket handkerchief.
This production, directed by Lee Lewis, manages to be playful, moving and shocking. Above all, it makes you constantly check in on your assumptions. What is love? What is human? As Cochineal the Fox says when she is teaching her youngest to kill, “Rdeca, they don’t actually feel anything. Not like us. We can endow them with fox complexity but where do we stop? Do we say moths love their pupae and raspberries mourn?”
Think about it.
First Love is the Revolution runs until December 14