As her lead character, Helen Fox explains that one out of every two people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
Something with the energy and emotion to meet tragedy with a smile.
Gemma, played by Fox, is diagnosed with cervical cancer, the same type that recently took her mother. Her diagnosis leads her to meet Bambi (Ellie Stevens), a 17-year-old ovarian cancer patient, and Jude (Stephen Carruthers) a nurse who interacts with his patients entirely via sarcasm and insult. It also causes a resurgence in her father (Codge Crawford)’s drinking habit.
The progression of the plot is done unskillfully at times; cast members often walk out on each other, causing the remaining one to yell something like ‘Don’t go,’ or ‘Talk to me’. And monologue sections that explore character’s inner thoughts are weaker than the dialogue. But the characters are well-realised and interesting which, in this type of drama, is more important. Fox finds complex motivations for her character, like the father, who needs to be able to help his daughter, but also needs to be helped.
That character writing is lifted by the amazing duo of Fox and Crawford, who have impressed in shows like last year’s 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, and Fox and Hound Theatre’s other show this year, Tennessee Williams’ Ivan’s Widow and Talk to me like the Rain and let me Listen. Though Fox’s naturalistic style and penchant for jokes is different than the poetic Williams’ prose, they astound all the same. The best scene in the play is an emotional confrontation between the two, wherein the characters’ usual defensive strategies are finally abandoned, leaving a raw, emotional core.
By comparison, Carruthers and Stevens fail to impress. The latter’s character is built on a false, airy optimism, which she fails to get underneath when the time comes. The former is too flat, though is assisted by great writing, which injects humour into scene when it’s most needed.
Though a departure from the norm for Fox and Hound, with 1 in 2 Chance they have created something with the energy and emotion to meet tragedy with a smile.