A fabulist is a teller of tales, a weaver of words: in common parlence, a liar. Such is Kate Fox, who (in the person of co-writer Michael Conley) introduces herself to talk to the paying audience about her life. A medium, a spiritualist, from a young age, with her sisters.
These were real women, but the facts have been somewhat embellished and altered. Kate was the youngest Fox sister but not the final one (that was Maggie, who was also the one who “told a lie”).
This musical runs just short of 90 minutes and is largely reliant on Conley’s imitation of an elderly lady used to hoodwinking her public. An old soak who has not one, but two love songs to bottles of whisky.
Kate conjures up the spirits of her sisters Leah and Maggie, seeking their compliance and approval of her stories. Her affable manner is always just on the edge of hysteria; her memories questionable.
Adam Lenson directs and produces under his ALP Musicals banner – check out the artist-driven work he has been involved in over this tough time for theatreland – and sneaks in a few overhead shots to drive home the medium’s art and artifice.
Luke Bateman and Conley have written a piece which may still have the odd rough edge, and which rushes through their subject’s string of misfortunes later in life, but which charms with its songs and sense of showbusiness.
The Fabulist Fox Sister streamed through Southwark Playhouse on 4 and 5 December 2020.