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A CurtainUp London Review
Toby Wharton taking the lead as Gary, nicknamed Fog, a 17 year old whose father Cannon (Victor Gardener) has come back from working in the army. Gary and his sister Lou (Annie Hemingway) were taken into care when their mother died 10 years ago and Cannon returned to his army regiment. Fog, in order to blend in with the children, in the home talks in a black street dialect. Hereís the incongruity of a white kid talking gansta speak to his father who has no experience of parenting, just guilt at abandoning his children. The opening scene has Cannon and Gary looking over a slum flat in a run down tower block. For Cannon it isnít good enough; for Gary itís the first home he feels is his own since his mother died.
The performances are excellent. Annie Hemingway, rejected by Gary, as the damaged sister with the reputation she got looking out for her younger brother. Victor Gardener is the father who doesnít know how to be a father and has been institutionalised by army life. Toby Wharton is compellingly impressive as Gary, who will switch from rude boy bravado to enormous vulnerability or touching childlike needs, with a psychological depth of insight into what it is to be abandoned. Stuck with a young emotional age, angry and out of control, as an actor Wharton is as full of promise as Fog is certain of a difficult future. When Gary misplaces his Mario Brothers game we see the child underneath the sassy, streetwise veneer. Benjamin Cawley contrasts as Michael, Garyís black school friend who aspires to university, a future that Gary does not have and Kanga Tanikye-Buah plays Bernice, Michaelís career minded, bitchy sister who is disdainful towards Fog.
It is impossible to watch a performance of Fog and not be genuinely moved and distressed by the human casualties of the care system. Walkerís direction is tight and realistic. Again the exceptional Finborough has discovered an important play; new writers highlighting something written about too rarely. Many care leavers go into the armed services on leaving local authority care, sometimes because this job is also a home for those who have no base to return to.
Retold by Tina Packer of Shakespeare & Co.
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