Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale

She [brusquely returning Ruber’s gaze]:  My condition? Why, I am thirsty for time.

Fox Vobiscum:  The eternal riddle of being.

Ruber [leaves stage, calling out]:  She’s fleecing us!

Fox Vobiscum [to She, apologetically]:  Contemporary foxes are skeptical and suspicious even or perhaps especially about themselves. …


Archetypal psychologist James Hillman described speech as the essential ‘human form of display’. He gave us the brilliant maxim ‘giraffes and tigers have splendid coats; we have splendid speech’. Red foxes, too, are known for their coats. And Undercoat takes the absurd liberty of anthropomorphising no fewer than three red foxes (Vulpes vulpes). Their language is omnivorous. Each constantly ‘tries on’ in her speech poetic fragments, sayings, allusions.

This occurs in the presence of a fourth character: ‘She’. Half-fox, half-human, ‘She’ is strident at first, bemoaning the interruption or inhibition of a metamorphosis from woman to she-fox … . Blending fable with ecological fact, Undercoat wonders out loud about our human-centred concepts of ‘wild’—and about what is lost, and what is gained, when no less than survival is at stake.

Creative Team

  • Writer Cynthia Troup
  • Directors Bagryana Popov with Alice Darling
  • Performers Caroline Lee, Emma Annand, Jean Goodwin, Maude Davey
  • Set & Costume Design Emily Collett
  • Sound Design Elissa Goodrich
  • Lighting Design & Stage Management Georgia Rann
  • Additional Stage Management Kelly Harris (also Project Coordinator)

Writing assisted by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts (2014). Development assisted by the Bundanon Trust Artist-in-Residence program (2016). Presentation assisted by the City of Melbourne 2017 Arts Grants Program. Premiere season: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of the 2017 Autumn Season; read the season brochure listing here

Undercoat 'large' image, photo Daisy Noyes
Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale, photo Daisy Noyes

Press & Reviews

Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale approaches the theatrical uncanny. It is a show you should see quite simply because it is a show you will never forget.
Tony Reck

Performance History

7–18 June: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre
30 March & 6 April: Sydney, extract presented as part of the 2017 Late Night Library series ‘Off the Page’, with film artist Peter Humble
8 July: Melbourne, Guild Theatre, extract presented as part of the international conference PSi #22 ‘Performance Climates’
3–5 December: Melbourne, La Mama Theatre, part of La Mama’s annual Explorations series of new work in progress

Further Reading

Premiere season media release, La Mama Theatre (2017); read here

Sydney Late Night Library series ‘Off the Page’ (2017) program; read here

Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale program, La Mama Theatre (2017); read here

Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale Explorations program, La Mama Theatre (2015); read here

Herbert, Kate, ‘Foxy Tale in Urban Landscape [review]’, Herald Sun, 9 June 2017; read here

Reck, Tony, ‘Undercoat: Fox Jumps Over Moon [review]’, Tony Reck Literature & Performing Arts blog June 2017

Troup, Cynthia, The (Obligatory) Dream. Scene from Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale, chapbook designed by Callum Starr (Lauriston: Sheoak Press, 2017)

_____,‘Towards a Different Way of Being: Emma Annand on “Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale”’, Inner Circle Magazine, 27 June 2017

_____, and Peter Humble, What the Fox, audiophonic work (circa 25’) produced by Miyuki Jokiranta (commissioned by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Creative Audio Unit), and first broadcast 16 December 2016; listen here

_____‘Glancing Sideways through “Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale”’, Writing from Below (special issue, Contamination from Above), vol. 2, no. 2 (2015); read here

_____‘“A Great Night-time Secret”: Foxes at Darebin Parklands. An interview with Peter Wiltshire’, n-Scribe Magazine, no. 10 (September 2015), pp. 23–25; read here (or download the full issue of the journal here)

Tuccio, Silvana, ‘Undercoat: A Parafoxical Tale [interview with Cynthia Troup]’, Medium, 6 June 2017—now archived at the writer’s own blog; read here