The Woodland Opera House’s production of Foxfire is certainly the prettiest looking show I’ve encountered on the community theater scene in quite a while. Scene designer Don Zastoupil has assembled the exterior of a funky old cabin and a shed amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains of Georgia, replete with pine trees. Costume designer Laurie Everly-Klassen presents a nice mix of denim and old-fashioned dresses, while Jeff Kean’s lights deftly imply the passing of day into night, and the frequent shifts from present into past that set the rhythm of this memory play.
But if it’s the look of the production that draws you in, it’s the script’s quiet insights into old-style rural life and modern family dynamics, reinforced by some capable performances from community actors, that keep you interested.
Foxfire moves at an unhurried pace, without sharp confrontations or razzle-dazzle action. The show’s sympathies unquestionably lie with the fast-fading “do-it-yourself” lifestyle of the elderly widow Annie Nations, who stays on the family acreage after her children have gone and most of her neighbors have moved to town and sold their property to developers of vacation resorts.
But the show doesn’t entirely gloss over the less-comfy realities of rural life—just listen to old Hector Nations’ grisly description of backwoods dentistry. Or the outdoor table that is used for both the delivery of a new baby and the preparation of old Hector’s body for burial—scenes that are openly sentimental, but not saccharine.
Cast members Joan Edwards and Dick Mangrum do well as the elderly pair at the center of the story, while Paul Eisenstein contributes some singing and guitar playing as the son who’s left the mountains for a career as a touring country singer.