“Can we have a plasma? I think you have to have ‘em in England nowadays. I think it’s the law”.
Opening in a dirty, granite-walled room, the dilapidated foundations of this top-floor flat resemble the bare bones of Fog’s reconstituted family. Abandoned whilst young as a result of their mother’s untimely death, Fog and his sister Lou were placed into care, left to fend for themselves in a system that forgot they existed.
After 10 years struggling to survive, Fog sees his dad Cannon return hoping to pick up the pieces of his family with visions of the happy household that he left behind. With Lou missing, and Fog scarred by his dysfunctional upbringing, this play tells a tale of young adults navigating their way through the urban metropolis of broken dreams, and withal attempting to gain a semblance of control over events that can quickly - and heartbreakingly - spiral into chaos.
The writers of Fog - RADA graduate Toby Wharton (who also stars) and established playwright Tash Fairbanks - have carefully crafted characters that struggle to be heard, veiling their true thoughts by “talking shit” which “doesn’t mean anything”, and emitting deafening silences that communicate volumes. To make matters worse, Fog’s best friend Michael, who was “born boffin”, is hoping to attend Oxford, aspiring to a better life than that which “the system” sets out for him. With Michael’s sister Bernice in line for a promotion, this black family stands in stark contrast to the cimmerian hopelessness of Fog’s own unemployed and unambitious kin.
Like the writing, the acting in Fog is truly phenomenal, moving the audience from shock and tears to laugh-out-loud humour. Some touching moments contrast with the hardness of the set, and the comic timing is spot-on throughout. Whilst perfectly cast all-round, Toby Wharton and Victor Gardener as Fog and Cannon respectively stand out for revealing the impossibility of breaking down age-old defenses that each character has learnt to construct, and subtly portraying the pain that lies simmering under the surface, threatening to boil over.
With Che Walker’s direction ensuring that we are entirely swept up in the action throughout, Fog is a play that harrows and humours, and reveals a Britain fighting for the happy ending that exists only on our plasma TV screens.