Lady Into Fox
Louise Gold starred in the title role in various venues, from The Sheffield Crucible Theatre to The Brighton Pavilion music room, between 15th March to 25th May 1996. In particular at The Hammersmith Lyric Studio Theatre between: 26 March - 20 April 1996.
The show is one of the most extraordinary she has ever done, for the audience it was pretty amazing to watch, for Louise herself:
"That was an amazing experience - I was required
to turn into a fox on stage, in full view of the audience. I soon discovered
that people found it fascinating or they loathed it!". Louise Gold
to Helen Taylor,
Mrs Tebrick - Louise Gold
Mr Tebrick - Dale Rapley
Based on the novel "Lady Into Fox" by David Garnett
Adapted by Neil Bartlett
Music by Nicolas Bloomfield
On Piano - Nicholas Bloomfield
Directed by - Leah Hausman
Desgin by Neil Bartlett
Lighting Designed by - Jonathan Driscoll
Produced by - Simon Mellor.
Sheffield Crucible Studio Theatre 15 March - 23 March 1996
Hammersmith Lyric Studio 26 March - 20 April 1996
Eastern Region tour 22 April - 4 May 1996,
Grantham Guildhall Arts Centre 3 – 4 May 1996
Leicester Haymarket Studio 8 - 11 May 1996
By the time Lady Into Fox played The Sheffield Crucible Theatre, it would have been more than possible to reach the theatre easily by tram, the construction of the Sheffield Supertram having been completed the previous autumn.
The story of Lady Into Fox was originally a novella by David Garnett, first published in 1922. It has its first theatrical incarnation in 1939, when it was turned into a ballet, designed by Nadia Benois, starring Sally Gilmour in the title role (intended for Andree Howard). It was the 18 year old Miss Gilmour’s first major role as a dancer. Coincidentally, the ballet was actually performed at The Hammersmith Lyric in 1944.
This production's two actors went on to appear in The Lost Musicals production of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
Louise Gold went on to work with this productions composer Nicholas Bloomfield in Pantomime In June.
Louise Gold had appeared at The Hammersmith Lyric Studio ten years earlier in Angry Housewives.
Dale Rapley went on to appear on television (as a member of Mamma Mia Cast 6) in ABBA - The Reunion.
Neil Bartlett may have previously taken part in Thing A Thon.
The score for Lady Into Fox was only written once the two actors had actually auditioned and won their roles. Incidentally one actress who was asked to audition for the role and turned it down, was Lucy Tregear, who to this day is still probably best known for her performance, with Dale Rapley, in Flora The Red Menace, at The Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond Upon Thames.
Twelve years later, Louise Gold herself appeared at The Orange Tree in Next Door’s Baby.
Louise Gold’s performance in Lady Into Fox, somewhat surprisingly, made it into The Observer newspaper’s Christmas Holiday Quiz for 1996, published on 29 December 1996, in the Review section on pages 20 and 21. In the section on theatre the third question asked
“Which performer, and in what show, pretended to play: a) a dog? b) a fox? c) the piano”
The answers being
“a) Zoe Wanamaker in Sylvia, b) Louise Gold in Lady Into Fox, c) Bob Hoskins in Old Wicked Songs”
Louise Gold's performance in Lady Into Fox has been commemorated by a seat plaque in the Hammersmith Lyric's glorious main house theatre, under their "Name A Seat" scheme. The plaque is on the back of seat number H3 (which is just in front of seats J2 and J3). The plaque reads
"The multitalented Louise Gold is differently but equally enjoyable. Perhaps being a puppeteer - helped her in her subtle but unmistakable foxy movements" Clare Bayley, The INDEPENDENT, 30 March 1996
“Looking like a woman while convincingly playing a fox takes talent and artistry, Louise Gold has both and is a very foxy lady indeed.... From scratching at the door and tearing a rabbit apart to her fox-like expressions, she carries off the animalesque role with style and dignity.” Lizz Brain, THE LEICESTER MERCURY, 10 May 1996, p25
production on a Victorian parlour setting is a study in power reversal,
levelling out in a rhapsodic duet, beautifully sung by Rapley and Gold.”
“Louise Gold is splendid as Mrs Tebrick, first seen in haughty profile like a ship’s figurehead. Spilling a luscious cloud of hair down a claret-red dress, she sidesteps visual mimicry for mute, emotive foxhood.” Colin De Suinn, PLAYS AND PLAYERS, June 1996
“Louise Gold’s titian-haired, crimson velvet-clad beauty transformed into beast is initially mute, eyes hunted and body quivering with an unspoken passion that could be love or hate.” Lyn Gardner, THE GUARDIAN, 30 March 1996
"Louise Gold - is mesmerising as she metamorphoses with nothing to aid her but a striking red costume. Her performance, and later singing, beautifully offset the restrained languor of the production." Charles Godfrey-Faussett, TIME OUT, 3 April 1996
"Gold is marvellous: nuzzling scratching using her teeth, shocking us with a sudden snarl, beseeching Tebrick with her eyes" John Gross, SUNDAY TELEGRAPH, 7 April 1996
“Encased in a plush red velvet gown and crowned with a bush of auburn hair, Gold mostly resorts to nervous alertness and hands held like paws to portray foxiness, and it’s enough.” Donald Hutera, WHAT’S ON, 3 April 1996.
“Gold does not let us miss the contrast between Silvia’s engulfing gowns and her increasingly feral mannerisms: a sniff and a snarl here, a twitch of the head and glint in the eyes there.” Benedict Nightingale, THE TIMES, 1 April 1996
“Louise Gold and Dale Rapley play with brilliant economy and sense of astonishment and pain.” John Peter, SUNDAY TIMES, 7 April 1996.
“ With her blood-red velvet dress and full head of russet hair Louise Gold as Mrs Tebrick is furtive and alluring. Dale Rapley as her husband is leonine and vulnerable. Both are assured singers with wide ranges and clean voices.” Simon Reade, FINANCIAL TIMES, 2 April 1996.
“The play is a compelling and intense experience. The plot concerning the physical metamorphoses of a young Victorian lady into a vixen and the slow decent into madness of her husband as his wife’s mental conversion into an animal is achieved. Dale Rapley and Louise Gold were mesmerising on stage.” Guy Rickards, JSTOR, Tempo New Series No 198, October 1996, pages 42 to 44.
"Her vixen-like mannerisms and movements are
wonderfully suggestive of the real thing." Helen Taylor,
“Louise Gold is full of feral stillness and the briefest little darting hand and head movements, not speaking for a considerable time after her transformation, then in little babbles of repeated phrases as if remembering her once-human self.” Gerard Van Werson, PLAYS INTERNATIONAL, Vol 11, No 10, May 1996.
Links about Lady Into Fox
Muppet Central/Tibby's Bowl Interview with Louise Gold http://www.muppetcentral.com/articles/interviews/gold.shtml
The Independent, an article by David Benedict about the soon to open production of Lady Into Fox: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-running-ahead-of-the-pack-1344285.html
The Independent, review by Clare Bayley: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/theatre-lady-into-fox-lyric-studio-hammersmith-1344779.html
JSTOR’s review by Guy Rickards: http://www.jstor.org/pss/946297