(Music "Stoney Lonesome")
That’s Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys playing a piece he called "Stoney Lonesome." That’s also what Hector Nations’ mother called the Appalachian farm that became her home to endure, Hector’s home to stay in and his son Dillard’s to flee from. Home and what attracts some and repels others is very much the central concern of "Foxfire" by Hume Cronyn at the Shawnee Theatre.
Orion Toepfer plays the feisty and hard-bitten family patriarch Hector. He’s a man with a love for the land and a strong feeling of stewardship. Toepfer makes Hector a tough nut, but a very appealing and frequently funny character. It’s about twenty minutes into "Foxfire" before we learn that Hector’s spirit is very much in evidence, but his body has been dead and buried for the past five years.
We see Hector and so does his wife, Annie, played by Mary Atkins. They were married for years and years, but still have things to say to one another. Atkins is simply masterful in her portrayal of Annie, an independent and resilient soul.
Troy Trinkle plays their country music singing son, Dillard. Through the play we see Dillard’s life, the youthful rebellion against his father and why he has to leave. Trinkle did a good job with the role of a conflicted youth and got the audience clapping along and applauding his singing and guitar playing.
Mark Brouwer had a brief, but appreciated appearance in "Foxfire," in a flashback as the doctor who delivers Dillard. The doctor has to contend with a number of folk remedies and practices. As he’s working with Annie, Hector places an axe under the delivery bed to "cut the pain." Alan Craig was "Prince Carpenter" a local boy who’s gone into real estate and wants to develop the Nations’ Stoney Lonesome farm.
Holly Burrell appears as a high school student collecting folk wisdom and later as a high school teacher working and living in the area she love. Burrell handled the two ages nicely.
Christian Bottorf not only directs "Foxfire" he is also responsible for a totally believable cottage and dilapidated farmyard set.
"Foxfire" is a loving picture of the land and rural living, but it has its eyes wide open to the difficulties, the conflicts and the real things that can keep people on the land or force them from it.
You can see this and other WFIU theatre, opera and film reviews on our web site at www dot Indiana dot edu.
The Shawnee Theatre’s production of "Foxfire" plays Thursday, Friday and Saturday at eight and Sunday at two.