CCTC/HJT Theater Review - Wily ‘Reynard the Fox’ Is Wicked Fun

by Amy F Tagliaferri
Reynard the Fox (Brian Lore Evans) with Perdue A. Hen (Stella Seufert), Partlet the Hen (Samantha Walker) and Poulet the Hen (Kate Paxton). BOB TUCKER/FOCALPOINT STUDIO PHOTO Reynard the Fox (Brian Lore Evans) with Perdue A. Hen (Stella Seufert), Partlet the Hen (Samantha Walker) and Poulet the Hen (Kate Paxton). BOB TUCKER/FOCALPOINT STUDIO PHOTO

Foxes are portrayed as sly little devils in tales as old as time. And stories of Reynard the Fox have been told as far back as Aesop, at the very least the Middle Ages. Playwright Fred Sullivan, Jr was obviously enthralled with all aspects of this wily creature and his adventures and has created a play that captures all the characteristics of the ancient narratives.

“Reynard the Fox or The Trickster,” now on stage at the Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre, is defined by Sullivan as “a new comedy about a very old tale,” and the plot conveys the same tenet of the medieval tales, poking fun at aristocrats and allowing the anthropomorphic animals to embrace their base desires for sustenance, despite their fancy attire. In other words, foxes love to hunt hares!

It’s a wild script with clever rhyming lines, prose and references to Shakespeare and more. Renaud is a scoundrel who must be exposed (his crimes are many) and brought to trial in the royal court. The evidence is overwhelming.

Brian Lore Evans masters Reynard’s clever ulterior motives with an ominous twinkle in his eyes. It’s easy to see how he’s able to make everyone believe his story as much as vain, ineffective King Noble the Lion (a funny, bumbling Toby Wilson) does. Reynard and his vixen wife (Emma Entwisle) are a very convincing and conniving power couple. Neil Gustafson is great as the frustrated wolf, Isengrim, who tries to bring Reynard down; but he’s got a nasty side, too.

On opening night Matt Gardner’s Bruin the Bear, Jane Staab’s Chanticleer the Rooster, and Kristen Stewart’s Tybalt the Cat were the scene stealers of the production. The three emulated their characters completely with detailed and comedic gestures. It was hard to take your eyes off them! We enjoyed the “choir” of chickens, too: Poulet the Hen (Kate Paxton), Perdue A. Hen (Stella Seufert), Cocky the Cockerel (Coco Kemp) and Parlet the Hen (Samantha Walker). We loved their wings flapping and the exaggerated pecking! But then again the entire ensemble of animals were all so good: Clune the Monkey (Hope Daley), Grimbart the Badger (Reese Daley), Firapell a Leopard (Zendon Donoho), Bellin the Ram (Drew Krauss), and Lampreel the Hare (Xevi Pina Parker). Gianna Casale plays Cocky the Cockerel for three performances. It’s truly an amazing cast.

Robin McLaughlin’s costume design and Sullivan’s animal headpieces are clever, very detailed and work well. Creator Sullivan, along with collaborator Walt O’Neill, are the masterminds behind the production and are also credited with the layered set design. Matthew Kohler (lighting design and tech director), Fionn Pina Parker (sound design) and Michael Weber (original musical composition) all added another layer to the complexity of the production. Kate Scarlett Graves (stage manager) with Mae Herrington (sound board operator) work magic behind the scenes.

The story is a lesson of a sort. We are who we are, yet greed can do strange things to people — or animals in this case. It’s nearly an hour and half of fast paced, action-filled, entertainment. Grab your tickets today!


"Reynard the Fox or The Trickster''

At Cape Cod Theatre Company/Harwich Junior Theatre

Through April 20, Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays and Sundays at 2 p.m.; vacation week matinees April 16,17, 18 at 2 p.m.; Sunday, April 14 will be a sensory friendly performance.

Information and reservations: 508-432-2002,