Portraits of a Fox : Truth or perceived truth?

By Chris Simmons

A bit of this and a piece of that is combined to make the cure for an anxious human mind, the relief that comes with judgment. The arbitrary nature of judgment and its penchant to deliver an answer more desired than truthful is the subject of Marcelle Hudon’s new multi-media production Portraits of a Fox.

The play revolves around the suspicion cast on Molly Trench (the Fox) after a wealthy Chinese businessman is murdered.

"The businessman had a lot of enemies but this woman is thought to be suspicious," says Hudon. "They [the media] create a portrait of someone from her papers and letters and the objects that surround [her]."

In the investigation, the evidence is tampered with and the truth is manipulated in order to suit the judgment; fact claims to be independent of the fiction that creates it.

"We don’t know if the judgment is true, we can never have the details that give us the judgment. Judgment itself is on trial," says Hudon.

The play was recently featured in the Montreal festival Le Mois de Multi, a multidisciplinary event held in Montreal and Quebec City. Portraits of a Fox is produced by the 5 cent Thriller Group, who are a group of creator-performers brought together by Hudon for their skill in working with innovative mediums and topics.

A variety of media are used to create the play. Samplers, a trombonist and a sound engineer provide the aural portion and the engineer takes clips directly from the play to expose the manipulation of evidence that creates the truth of the plot. This also points to the manipulation that happens in the enactment of the play, thus destroying any distance between the play and what it represents.

"We don’t hide the manipulation of the play, the wires aren’t hidden or anything else, the audience sees the fiction," says Hudon.

Visually, shadows and projected video images are combined with the action to offer the viewer three points of view simultaneously. The play is a thriller and audio techniques are used to show this. Contact microphones pick up everything and sounds are transformed into thrilling chords.

"We use the thriller music to build suspicion," tells Hudon. "The banal noises can burn into your mind."

Although Molly Trench’s guilt is shown to be subject to manipulation, we still are not given the safety of knowing her innocence.

"The audience knows the old techniques and tricks of the thriller, we play with the judgment, it’s not too serious, it has humour and game playing but everything is kept in suspense," explains Hudon.

With so much media penetrating the cerebral cortex, boredom seems an unlikely fate for this play. If you would like to see the innovative edge of drama, Portraits of a Fox will play at the One Yellow Rabbit High Performance Rodeo Jan. 28-30.