The IdeasTap Takeover: Love at Rich Mix is intended (as stated on the fliers) as an “escape from the mush of Valentine’s Day”. The performance artist Fox Solo is a one-night act within the takeover, coming on stage dressed as half yummy mummy, half female fox. She declares her love to her nodding dog Husk in her hour-long show that combines dance, song and kitsch video projections. Foxy and Husk doesn’t cut through the soppiness of Dr Valentine, but adds to it in abundance, as it becomes tragically apparent throughout the show that Husk is her current substitute for a partner, creating the perfect (and mushy) portrait of heartbreak and loneliness.
Foxy breaks the ice at the beginning of the play by handing out shots of milk to the most attentive audience members, and encouraging communal catharsis as she gets us all to drink to loves past and present. Her direct interaction with the audience (particularly as she is dressed in a bizarre fox outfit!) is a device that should be developed further throughout the performance, and is a missed opportunity to “escape from the mush” and address the very personal issue of the love in the room.
After making us all drink, she speaks of the various men she has dated, lip-syncing to a pre-recorded posh and displaced voice that is reminiscent of the Queen’s Christmas address. Her anecdotes about the assorted men in her life are humorous and touching, but provide us with nothing more than nostalgic sentiment to chew over. Her video recording of a ‘romantic’ beach date with Husk is a parody of a thousand poor YouTube and Facebook ‘Look Back’ videos: funny for about a minute, but tedious as the third round of sepia-filtered frames are paraded across the screen.
The form in which Foxy and Husk is presented is genuinely interesting. Foxy’s lip-synced dialogue is a real experiment with the audience’s awareness of sound. She has also chosen to heighten the sounds of the milk (a huge presence on stage from the beginning) to the same volume as her speech as it is poured and drunk. Playing with sound seems to be a current trend in theatre practice, with the live creation of the sounds of money in the National Theatre’s From Morning To Midnight being a large feature of the experimental side of the performance. Foxy certainly develops this to add an extra sensory dimension to the way that the audience receive the performance.
The emphasised sound of the milk calls the audience’s attention to the phrase “there’s no use crying over spilt milk”, repeated often by Foxy as it is used to describe her numerous heartbreaks. A huge part of her set design is pints and pints of fresh milk on stage and, under the lights, it takes on a viscous and impenetrable quality. It is a highly engaging medium to watch because of its opacity, as Foxy pours it from glass bottles to basins, tipping the basins over so that the liquid spills over the table making a huge, white milky patch over the floor of the stage. The fluidity of the liquid around the stage creates wonderful and relaxing visuals, but does not actually contribute to the quality of the performance, which, although energised, is confused and lacks linearity.
This piece of performance art is fantastic for its experimentation in form, but not its content. Foxy’s use of on-stage liquid and sound creates a set of simple yet engaging stimuli in the small black box space in Rich Mix. However, it does not allow you to “escape the mush” of Valentine’s Day, unfortunately.
The IdeasTap Takeover at Rich Mix played until 16 Feburary. For more information please visit the IdeasTap website.