Little Foxes

Speaking of female artists, Lillian Hellman made quite a name for herself writing such theatrical gems as The Children's Hour, Toys in the Attic and The Little Foxes, a novel, Julia, which was later filmed, and a host of other successful work. Hellman was outspoken and provocative during a tumultuous time, a shrill outsider throughout the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights Movement and the Vietnam War. Such activities earned her the wrath of Senator Joseph McCarthy and other American fascists posing as defenders of the Republic.

While Hellman's radicalism is subtle, her criticism of the fabric of corruption and greed underlying the American political economy is nevertheless apparent in the Denver Center Theatre Company's current production of The Little Foxes. The play revolves around the Hubbards, a thieving bunch of noveau rich social climbers trying to grab their share of the spoils of the New South's post-Reconstruction economic boon.

The ensemble includes: Gordana Rashovich, John Hutton and Bill Christ, who pair off as the Hubbard siblings, willing to steal from each other as readily as from outsiders; Elizabeth Bunch as Regina's comely idealistic daughter who quickly comes of age amidst all the skullduggery; Daniel Ahearn as the dying head of the clan the rest are trying to steal from; Caitlin O'Connell as Birdie Hubbard, a flower wilting under the tyrannical Oscar who married her for her family's money; Christopher Kelly, Birdie and Oscar's handsome but dim-witted son; Greg Thornton, the Yankee industrial being wooed by the family to build a mill; and Sharon Hope and Alphonse Keasley as Addie and Cal, the wise but abused black hired help.

If all this sounds like a melodrama, that's because this is the kind of work after which such TV shows as "Dallas," "Dynasty," and "Falcon Crest" were modeled. However, while the acting is excellent and the drama forces a number of moving moments, the play leaves us without a catharsis. The potential sexual undercurrents are under-explored, and Hellman's sympathetic characters hold little sway under the relentless money grubbing by the principals. While this may rouse our anger, the passion to move us to action is, alas, unstirred.

The Denver Center Theatre Company's production of Lillian Hellman's The Little Foxes, directed by Bruce K. Sevy runs through April 21st. 303-893-4100.


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