The Little Foxes starring Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney – review at Samuel J Friedman Theatre, New York

Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney in The Little Foxes in New York. Photo: Joan Marcus
Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney in The Little Foxes in New York. Photo: Joan Marcus
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Written in 1939, The Little Foxes is a classic Broadway drama and an American theatre warhorse. Manhattan Theatre Club's bracing new production is fresh and invigorating. It’s so good you may want to see it twice, and not merely to relish its richly drawn portrait of a family at war with itself.

MTC, following the recent example of the Almeida Theatre’s Mary Stuart, double cast the two female lead roles.

Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney alternate with each other. At the performance I attended, the brittle but astute Nixon played Regina Giddens, the constantly scheming matriarch whose husband is dying and whose brothers are trying to secure some of his money to invest in building a cotton mill; Linney played her desperately neglected sister-in-law Birdie Hubbard.

Nixon, though best known as Miranda in Sex and the City, has a rich stage pedigree and won a Tony in 2006. She invests Regina with a ferocious sense of ambition and heartlessness. She wins a business victory over her brothers but loses much more when she allows her husband to die and drives away her only daughter. Linney, in this iteration, has a much smaller role as the fretful Birdie, but she also reveals her stunning chameleonic abilities, downplaying her natural radiance.

Daniel Sullivan's finely calibrated production, played out on Scott Pask's handsome drawing room set, isn't just a vehicle for these two fine performances, it’s also a glorious ensemble production that crackles with tension and there are terrific contributions from Richard Thomas as Regina's husband and Michael McKean and Darren Goldstein as her two brothers.

 

Verdict
Classic Broadway revival staged with conviction by a superb cast
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