The Little Foxes
Greenhouse Theater Center
Lillian Hellman’s 1939 play about the “dangers of greedy men and unfettered capitalism” may have you thinking Bernie Madoff or Rod Blagojevich, said Chris Jones in the Chicago Tribune. This incredibly harrowing—and incredibly entertaining—“Southern melodrama” concerns the rapacious Hubbard siblings of Alabama who will crush anyone for a dollar. Director Brandon Bruce remains true to Hellman’s vision, presenting these characters as objects of sickened revulsion and amused fascination. At one point Addie, the maid who serves as the play’s moral compass, stands on the verge of rebellion against the “people who eat the Earth and all the people on it, like in the Bible with the locusts.” The audience can’t help but rumble in sympathy.
The Little Foxes is “a fabulous vehicle for ensemble acting,” and the cast rises to the occasion, said Albert Williams in the Chicago Reader. The play’s central figure, the thwarted Regina Hubbard Giddens, “is one of the great anti-heroines of American literature.” She’s at once monstrous and human, ruthless yet full of admirable intelligence. Linda Reiter portrays her with plenty of pent-up energy, like a “coiled viper waiting to strike.” Kevin Kenneally portrays Regina’s wily brother Ben almost as “a scheming eunuch in some ancient royal court.” Don Bender, as the boorish brother Oscar, cuts a “self-important but incompetent father figure.” Carolyn Nelson, as Addie, and Bryson Engelen, as Regina’s butler, Cal, prove there are no throwaway roles in this gripping production. A promising young director, Bruce clearly understands a thing or two about casting, and makes the most of this “durable and compelling work.”