During their night shift guarding washing machine circuit boards, the two befriended security men Mark and Sparx churn topics ranging from work contracts to false media portrayals, unions to acting careers and…protein-deficiency.
The two work long, unsocial hours and are rewarded neither status nor proper living wage. Both have inherently contrasting work attitudes: Mark is diligent, obedient and happy to have a job at all, not only because he wants to be able to afford his pregnant girlfriend’s dream holiday. Sparx on the other hand hates about anything job-related and would quit immediately if he could. Despite their differences in work ethic, they are both united in their want to just get by.
No Milk for the Foxes is not simply a theatre play; it is a new experience, culminating in an after-show of spoken word and hip hop performances by befriended artists. Conrad Murray and Paul Cree, the two actors and creative minds behind this project, break theatre conventions just as they would like to break the chains of the establishment. Their dialogues full of poignant criticism and analytical wit are interrupted with rapping and time montage interludes accompanied by live looping. It is a beatbox musical, underlined by an astonishing eye for details not only in their rhymes but also in their costumes, stage and light design: it’s all black, white, grey and red. The highlighting of the Labour’s Party colour is no coincidence.
Despite all the “bruv”s and prejudices against anyone earning more than National Minimum Wage, the performance is a treat. The show gives off the vibe of a passionate political discussion with no censoring of anyone’s hardship or opinions. Murray and Cree lack the pretentiousness of other middle class plays or films trying to portray an authentic working class, because the stories told in their production are real to them. On their opening night there was a clear sense of comradery amongst the audience and artists: people could relate to the social inequalities portrayed on stage. The spectators whooped in agreement when zero hour contracts were verbally slandered. Even though it is acted, there is no pretending to be anything. This is not your typical “gritty and edgy show”, it is a heartfelt appeal. Which goes highly recommended.
Reviewed by Lisa Theresa Downey-Dent
Photo: Joyce Nicholls
No Milk for the Foxes is playing at the Camden Peoples Theatre until 9 May 2015. Click here for tickets