Séances, Spiritualism and Sardonic Songs
“She was a small medium, a happy medium, a medium but rare.” Kate Fox
In the Cabaret space at Crazy Coqs is The Fabulist Fox Sister, the show that lifted us out of the misery that was lockdown, but instead of being streamed, it is live. Michael Conley as Kate Fox takes us back to 1848 when she and her sisters invented spiritualism.
Living in Hydesville New York the two younger sisters told their mother they could hear banging on the walls of their house and demonstrated the phenomenon to a neighbour. They asked questions of the spirit who replied accurately with a series of knocks.
Our narrator, accompanied on the piano by Tamara Stringer and by a percussionist, Calie Hough, explains how the movement took off and of the solace she provided to rich men whose children had died. They would sell tickets to shows and of course with the Civil War in the 1860s, more and more spirit war dead would return to comfort their relatives.
The setting is ideal with red velvet drapes of that era creating the idea that this is her last séance in the 1890s and that we are in her apartment, sitting at tables with our hands in view.
The lyrics for the songs are witty and great fun and Michael Conley has a powerful delivery and a compelling presence describing these eerie encounters. With his hair tied back, dressed in black and rolling his large eyes, he looks not unlike one of the Fox Sisters in the photograph. It is hugely enjoyable!
Much of the humour is self deprecatory or cynical about Kate’s sibling rivalry with elder sister Leah and middle sister Maggie. The spirits mentioned include Jack, Jim and Glen but I could add Gordon and Johnny.
Kate comes to London and marries barrister Henry Jenkins and has two children. As spiritualists Maggie and Kate face attempts to de-bunk their powers, including an outage from eldest sister Leah.
I saw The Fabulist Fox Sister on the last opportunity this year but hopefully it will be back. And of course should you believe in the spirit medium, Kate Fox will give us a knock!
The Fabulist Fox Sister
Written by Michael Conley
Music by Luke Bateman
Directed by Adam Lenson
Director: Adam Lesson
Designer: Libby Todd
Lighting Designer: Matt Daw
Composer: Luke Bateman
Running Time: One hour 15 minutes without an interval
20 Sherwood Street
London W1B 5AP
Phone: 020 7734 4888
Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Reviewed by Lizzie Loveridge at Crazy Coqs
on 30th November 2022