Performers: Helen Fox, Codge Crawford, Steven Carruthers
Reviewer: James Napleton
A story of rivalry and hardship in 1930s Mississippi, 27 Wagons Full of Cotton is a provocative play performed to good effect in this Fox and Hound Company performance.
This one-act play runs to only around 40 minutes but offers a powerful insight into brutality and abuse focused upon the character Flora, played well by Helen Fox.
We see the cruelty in Flora’s life from the very beginning, as her dispassionate husband Jake (Codge Crawford) physically and psychologically abuses her. Fox and Crawford have an excellent theatrical rapport that begins in Williams’ language but is really brought to life in their playing. In this relationship, we see both the cruelty but also deeper understanding and affection the two hold for each other.
The third character is the malevolent Silva Vicarro (Steven Carruthers), a cotton trader and rival of Jake. The dynamics between Carruthers and Fox are less clear and the scene between them lacks the real terrifying tension it requires. However, their individual performances are good and the play is very engaging through a good use of the space and understanding of the script.
The final moments of the play are perhaps the most strange and dire, and this is captured wonderfully by Flora’s final few moments of hysterical laughing while lying half-naked and beaten. The play’s modest length is made up for by its intensity and severity, and this is well handled by the three performers.
Runs until 3 June 2017 at The Rialto Theatre | Image: Walter Hampson
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