For the first time, real-life father and son Edward and Freddie Fox appear on stage, creating a ‘delicious double act’ as fictional father and son Lord Caversham and Lord Goring in Oscar Wilde’s AN IDEAL HUSBAND at the Vaudeville Theatre in London. Dubbed the ‘Fantastic Foxes’ by critics, Edward, the head of Britain’s acting dynasty is joined on the boards by his youngest son Fredrick in what was as much a life decision as a professional one.
“I’ve been offered to do Caversham again,” Edward said to Freddie. “I’ll do it if you do it” …and they both took a walk on the Wilde side. “It was such a wonderful opportunity and emotional to finally act with the old man,” said Freddie. Friends call them ‘Fredward’ and note that a large part of their relationship is verbal jousting, so the play is just an extension of that.
Fellow cast member France Barber told the Evening Standard, “You can see the respect they have for each other and they obviously love working together and enjoying each other… it’s just absolutely joyous.”
Both Eddie and Freddie signed my sketch at the stage door last week.
For his last West End role Freddie Fox had less than 48 hours notice. It was just the minor part Romeo opposite Lily James in Kenneth Branagh’s ROMEO & JULIET at the Garrick Theatre last year, after the previous lead Richard Madden and his understudy Tom Hanson took the phrase ‘break a leg’ a bit too literally. He got the call on Friday and “they wanted me on stage Saturday” he said. Technically he knew the role, having played it 10 months earlier at The Crucible in Sheffield. He described the first night as ‘a memory test’ an making sure he stood in the right play and not fall off the stage.
For his next trick, Freddie’s latest stage appearance as the avant-garde dandy Tristan Tzara in Tom Stoppard’s ‘fiendishly-complicated’ TRAVESTIES, he had months to prepare. Directed by Patrick Marber, the Menier Chocolate Factory production sold out before it opened at the off-West End venue before transferring to the Apollo. It weaves together a fictionalised meeting between Vladimir Lenin, James Joyce and the Romanian-French writer Tzara in Zurich in 1917.
In his four-star review for the Evening Standard, Henry Hutchings wrote, “It’s Freddie Fox who dazzles, revelling in the anarchic energy of a character who’s part nuisance, part genius.” It’s a performance that has earned him a nomination for the best Supporting Actor Olivier Award at next month’s ceremony. Freddie signed this sketch for me at the stage door between shows last Saturday.
The latest West End revival of Noel Coward’s comic play Hay Fever was staged, appropriately, at the Noel Coward Theatre in 2012. A cross between high farce and a comedy of manners, it is set in an English country house in the 1920s and deals with the four eccentric members of the Bliss family, and their outlandish behaviour. “Crisp comic bliss,” one critic wrote.
Frederic Samson Robert Morie Fox, thankfully abbreviated his name to Freddie, played Simon Bliss the son who was superbly resolute in his refusal to grow up. From the famous family of Foxes, Freddie definitely has the acting gene. The Observers Kate Kellaway described Freddie as, “deliciously debonair… a thespian treat, slightly teasing formality with poised charm.” He was certainly all that when he signed this sketch, after a summer evening’s performance in May 2012.
Rupert Everett and Freddie Fox proved an inspired piece of casting in Neil Armfield’s critically received revival of David Hare’s 1998 play The Judas Kiss. The production, about Oscar Wilde’s scandal and disgrace at the hands of his young lover Bosie (Lord Alfred Douglas).
It opened at the Hampstead Theatre in September 2012 before a West End transfer to the Duke of York. Rupert’s portrayal of Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was recognised in the theatre awards, nominated for an Olivier, longlisted in the Evening Standard and winning the WhatsOnStage Best Actor gong – voted by over 60,000 theatre goers. Both Rupert and Freddie signed my sketch at the Duke’s in January 2013.