By John Berger
Special to the Star-Bulletin
PARENTS be advised: There are no cute little animals in Hawaii Pacific University's production of "The Little Foxes." A couple with a small child left during a performance last weekend, but adults and mature teens will find this play a wonderful experience.
Playwright Lillian Hellman based the story on her mother's family in turn-of-the century Alabama. They were evidently not nice people. The reference to foxes is Biblical. Director Joyce Maltby and an excellent cast do a marvelous job in bringing Hellman's unpleasant characters to life.
If the love of money is the root of all evil then the Hubbards are very deeply in love. Ben (David Schaeffer) and Oscar (Richard Valasek) built much of the family fortune as businessmen shortchanging the less fortunate white trash and "coloreds" of the area.
The Little Foxes: 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 4 p.m. Sundays through Dec. 5; Hawaii Pacific University Theatre. Tickets $12, $8 students. Ticket stubs from "Miss Saigon" may be used to obtain a free ticket when buying another.
Their sister, Regina (Eden-Lee Murray), married into money, wants more and has no qualms about getting it.
Ben, cool and calculating, cloaks his deeds with pious references. Oscar is closer to the Hubbards' white-trash origins. He married into the pre-war southern aristocracy and never misses an opportunity to remind his wife Birdie that the Hubbards have the land and money now.
Oscar's lazy rakehell son, Leo (Dustin Richardson), is a younger, less cunning version of Oscar.
Things look good for the entire clan when they negotiate a deal with a wealthy northern industrialist to build a mill in the town. Regina will own a third of the deal if she can persuade her ailing husband, Horace (John Hunt), to go in on the deal with Ben and Oscar.
Horace refuses to invest. How far will Regina and Ben and Oscar go to keep the deal in the family?
The precise interplay among Murray, Schaeffer and Valasek, extracts subtle nuances in the script in vivid performances. Each is more remarkable than the next. Which Hubbard do we hate most?
John Hunt (Horace), Melinda Maltby (Birdie), and Therese Olival (as Regina's daughter Alexandra), add fine performances in key scenes. Horace's dogged desire for revenge, Birdie's martyrdom, and Alexandra's moral innocence are important facets in the story.
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