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A CurtainUp London London Review
Fog


You donít understand. Once they push you out youíre in freefall . . . — Lou
Fog
Toby Wharton as Fog (Photo: Arnim Fries)
In a very accomplished debut as joint playwrights, Task Fairbanks and Toby Wharton present us with Fog a tender and moving portrait of the damage done to children in local authority care. A few yearsí back, 27 year old Toby Wharton had his third level audition for entry to Britainís most prestigious drama college, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and was looking for a suitably original audition piece. Together with his motherís partner, he wrote his own and Fog is the result. Toby got into RADA and they loved his audition piece so much, he was encouraged to develop it. A fairy tale ending unlike the ending for the real characters in Fog whose pain is genuine and searing.

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.

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Fog
Written by Tash Fairbanks and Toby Wharton
Directed by Chť Walker

With: Toby Wharton, Victor Gardener, Benjamin Cawley, Kanga Tanikye-Buah, Annie Hemingway
Designed by Georgia Lowe
Costume Designer: Rachel Szmukler
Lighting: Arnim Fries
Sound: Edward Lewis
Fight Director: Steve Medlin
Running time: 75 minutes without an interval
Box Office: 0844 847 1652
Booking to 28th January 2012
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge based on 13th January 2012 performance at The Finborough Theatre, 118 Finborough Road, London SW10 9ED (Tube: Earls Court)

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