There have been several artistic variations on the theme of mistaken identity involving a soldier with amnesia returning home from war. Welcome Home Captain Fox is the latest and, I’m sorry to say, not the best. Adapted by Australian Anthony Weigh from Jean Anouih’s fact based 1937 comedy, Le Voyageur Sans Baggage, The Donmar’s latest offering has Gene as the soldier returning to 1950’s America (the Hamptons to be exact). He has been incarcerated in an East German prisoner of war camp and interrogated by the US authorities as a suspected communist sympathizer. Now free, he is identified by the wealthy Fox family as their long lost son, Jack. The only problem is that once Jack discovers things about his past, he begins to wonder if he would be better off without the reconciliation.
Jack has been brought to the Foxes’s smart mansion by Marcee Dupont Dufort and her older husband De Wit, who spend their whole time bitching with one another; definitely not a marriage made in heaven. The Foxes, too, are no happy family and come across as cold, spoilt and altogether unpleasant human beings, which is another reason why Gene is not necessarily keen to assume or re-assume the name Jack Fox.
The cast, on the whole, is pretty good, with the women scoring slightly higher over the men. Katherine Kingsley has a high old time camping it up as the nouveau riche Mrs. Dupont Dufort (“you do say the t”). Blowsy, loud and altogether hilarious, the stage seems bereft without her. Fenella Woolgar, as Mrs. Fox’s predatory daughter-in-law, an imperious manipulator with just the right hint of desperation, is also excellent. Whilst Mrs. Fox herself, played by Sian Thomas turns imperiousness into an art form. Could any mother be less maternal?
Unfortunately the men in the cast fare less well. I’m afraid none of their performances made much of an impression, with even Rory Keenan a pretty much forgettable Captain Fox. Not only does his American accent waiver somewhat, but I found it hard to believe that he was a returning soldier, let alone one in the fifties.
Mark Thompson’s set and the costumes all allude very well to post war gentility but that and Blanche McIntyre’s direction can’t raise this latest Donmar production above “ok”.