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A beautifully performed musical, with puppets
Here, Filomena’s vintage clothes shop is in financial difficulties, but her friend Pam suggests that Filomena saves the business by selling off all her grandmother’s old furs, because punters are prepared to pay large sums to acquire them. At first, this seems like the obvious answer, but as she ponders this strategy in the seclusion of her deserted shop, Filomena isn’t so sure. Is this the right solution? Filomena is haunted by a series of deceased animals - Fox, Bear, Racoon-Dog and a trio of all-singing all-dancing rabbit fur shoes - who each tell their own stories, and slowly but surely Filomena thinks again.
We may well think that we know all about the cruelty of the fur trade, especially here in Brighton – recently dubbed the vegan capital of the UK. But I’ve been vegan for close to 30 years and I learned something today. The show lays bare the shocking facts of the capitalist double-speak which allows manufacturers to pass off real fur as fake fur because it’s cheaper and now (obviously) has a larger market than correctly labelled fur products. It also raises the important debate concerning animal self-consciousness and their ability to feel love, fear and pain. The implications of this for the less glamorous relatives of these exotic animals are not difficult to see.
If this all sounds worthy, ‘heavy’ and challenging, then the way in which it is presented perfectly counterpoints the seriousness of the narrative. Basically, it’s a beautifully performed musical, with puppets. What’s not to like? Emily Compton’s score is superb, offering songs ranging from Fox’s old-time number (sung to perfection by Julia Dray), to a great (if lyrically chilling) ensemble number from a trio of singing shoes. I defy anybody not to be moved by Bethan Kate-Tonkin’s instantly adorable Racoon-Dog or William Uden’s ponderous Bear.
Far from being a downer, this show is unexpectedly uplifting and, yes, I frequently found tears in my eyes. Appropriately, the actors received a very prolonged and enthusiastic applause at the show’s conclusion. FAUX deserves a wide audience and it wouldn’t surprise me if one day, in some form, it found itself in the West End.