No Milk for the Foxes is the story of so many people, up and down the country, who live desperately in plain sight, but are nevertheless still ignored, writes After Nyne’s Dominic Stevenson. It has been put on as part of the Camden People’s Theatre season of events, The State We’re In, during the run up to the General Election.
Mark and Sparx, Paul Cree and Conrad Murray respectively, are two security guards who have found themselves down on their luck in a time of job insecurity. Though both men have different ideas of what they want job security for, one to get a house for himself and his partner and the other for new trainers, they both believe that ultimately their value as members of the community has been stripped from them and they see little hope of it being returned.
A Government who hate the people who they govern, especially when they weren’t elected by an outright majority, tend to evoke a strong reaction from artists. No Milk for the Foxes has a maturity, and a subtlety, that makes it a voice worth listening to.
It would be easy to shout and kick and scream and say it’s not fair, but this collaboration between Beats & Elements and the Camden People’s Theatre shows the possibilities of what can happen when artistry meets enabler, and they work together for a common good.
The play is described as hip hop theatre about class, status, and milk. This description immediately challenges and I’m sure that they’ll have lost some potential, and short sighted, theatre goers because of the hip hop description. But I think that’s their point. Even the supposedly enlightened can, and do, turn their backs on some things and that’s why messages that need to be heard aren’t being heard.
The hip hop element to the show comes when they break the fourth wall with beat boxing, rapping and lyrical skills that, at times, are sublime. They use hip hop as a form of expression, not as the point of the show, and this is why I believe that those who the words hip hop put off are guilty of short sightedness.
Their mild mannered observations of what they expected life to be, and their reminiscences about years gone by, only endear these two men to the audience. Mark and Sparx, to put it how parents up and down the land have put it for time immemorial, are not angry – they’re just disappointed.
The context of these two artists is that they’ve spent years working within the community running workshops, and guiding young people forward. They’re authentic and positive people, and in No Milk for the Foxes, this comes across. The play is challenging but once the lights go down they make understanding the characters and their struggles easy, and it is confident enough in its own message not to pander and water itself down to gain the bigger audience it deserves.
If I was in charge of a pot of funding, I’d have sent No Milk for the Foxes on a tour to every sixth form college in the country in the run up to the election.
It’s a warning against a lack of engagement at the time where we need it most. As I’m not in charge of anything much, all I can really say is make sure there isn’t an empty seat in the house for the rest of the shows run.
No Milk For The Foxes
Camden People’s Theatre
Wed 22 Apr – Sat 09 May
Time: 7.30pm // 6pm on 2 May // 9pm on 5-9 May
Ticket Information: £12 / 10 concs