Tag Archives: Michael Conley

The Fabulist Fox Sister

The Fabulist Fox Sister


Livestream from Southwark Playhouse

The Fabulist Fox Sister

The Fabulist Fox Sister

Livestream from Southwark Playhouse

Reviewed – 5th December 2020



“a staggering performance and an excellent production”


If there’s one thing that the past nine months have proven, it’s that online theatre is hard. There’s an energy that doesn’t seem to translate, the lack of audience response feels like a detraction, and you’re beholden to sub-film set cinematography. The Fabulist Fox Sister does something quite special though: in many ways it feels like rather than adapting theatre to an online format, it’s crafting something entirely new. Mostly, it does it exceptionally well.

That’s been the mission statement for director and producer Adam Lenson since lockdown descended; to successfully transpose the theatrical experience into a digital format – and this musical pulls it off with aplomb. The show is livestreamed from the Southwark Playhouse so no spontaneity is lost, the musicians play live and in situ with the actor, and the use of multiple camera angles and shots start to blur the lines between the cinematic and theatrical.

Amidst the flames of this burgeoning new form is the perfect story for it: that of Kate Fox, the ‘mother of all mediums’ who more or less birthed spiritualism, popularising seances with her sisters Leah and Margaret (who in the show form the two-piece keys and percussion band). Framed as Kate’s retirement show, she takes us through the lies, loves, and losses of her life through a stellar performance from Michael Conley. The text is rich with quips, black comedy, and smart callbacks that Conley knows exactly how to work every syllable of – though it’s somewhat expected since he also wrote the book and lyrics. Luke Bateman’s music largely keeps pace, weaving a seamless journey between speech and song, and giving a campy cabaret-style pulse to the show. A couple of songs sound a little too familiar to each other musically but it’s by no means going to ruin your night.

The only thing that did break the immersion was the use of laughter and applause, which I believe came from the crew in the theatre but may well have been canned. Huge belly laughs sounded for some jokes where most received nothing; similarly around three songs received applause at the end. It was unclear if this was trying to signify something and the inconsistency ultimately distracted. If intentional, it was a strange directorial choice from Lenson, who otherwise facilitated a staggering performance and an excellent production overall.

What was most clear was the respect that The Fabulist Fox Sister displayed for the new form that it occupied – it didn’t feel resentful or uncomfortable, but confident and innovative. It bodes very well for the show’s companion piece Public Domain which is livestreaming next week, and for the future of live digital theatre as a whole.



Reviewed by Ethan Doyle

Photography by Jane Hobson


The Fabulist Fox Sister

Livestream from Southwark Playhouse


Recently reviewed by Ethan:
Far Away | ★★½ | Donmar Warehouse | February 2020
Republic | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Ryan Lane Will Be There Now In A Minute | ★★★★ | The Vaults | February 2020
Big | | Network Theatre | March 2020
Stages | ★★★½ | Network Theatre | March 2020
Songs For A New World | ★★★ | Online | July 2020
Entrée | ★★★★ | Online | September 2020
Rose | ★★ | Online | September 2020
Apollo 13: The Dark Side Of The Moon | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020
People Show 138: Last Day | ★★★★ | Online | October 2020


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Tim Johanson Productions presents

The Superhero

by Richy Hughes, Joseph Finlay and Michael Conley.
Based on an original idea by Richy Hughes.

Michael Rouse stars in the world premiere of this one-man musical, which is the first musical to play in Southwark Playhouse’s Little space.

The Superhero, written by Richy Hughes, Joseph Finlay and Michael Conley and directed by Adam Lenson plays from 28 June – 22 July 2017. 

Production includes Stiles and Drew Prize-winning song Don’t Look Down.



‘Good afternoon, your honour. I’m Colin Bradley. I’m here today to ask you, your honour, not to let Christine Davis, my ex-wife, move out of the country with Emily Bradley, my daughter.’


Colin and Christine split up five years ago. Now Christine is taking their daughter to Los Angeles with her new job, and there’s nothing Colin can do about it. Or is there?

Including ‘Don’t Look Down’, the Stiles and Drew Prize-winning song, The Superhero is a new one man musical by Richy Hughes (Mr Popper’s Penguins), Michael Conley (The Sorrows of Satan) and Joseph Finlay (This Is Also England), and directed by Adam Lenson (Songs for a New World) that asks, how far would you go to see your child?


Michael Rouse plays Colin Bradley. His theatre credits include Romeo and Juliet, The Winter’s Tale, Harlequinade (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick), Three Men in a Boat (UK Tour), Carousel (Barbican), Matilda (RSC), Oklahoma (Chichester Festival Theatre), The Lord of the Rings (Theatre Royal, Drury Lane), Dona Rosita: The Spinster (Orange Tree Theatre), The Boy Friend (Regent’s Park Open Air) and Saturday Night Fever (London Palladium). Michael has sung live on BBC Radio 2 and as a soloist with the Royal Philharmonic, and the London Philharmonic Orchestras. Film and television credits include Murder on the Orient Express (20th Century Fox) 24: Live Another Day (Fox), Alien Autopsy (Qwerty Films), Mary Queen of Scots (BBC) and The Man Who Knew too Little (Luna Productions).




Wednesday 28 June – Saturday 22 July 2017

Monday to Saturday at 8pm
Tuesday matinees at 3.30pm
Saturday matinees at 3.30pm


Box Office:


020 7407 0234


Ticket Prices:

Previews on 28, 29 June – all tickets £12
From 30 June: £20, £16 (concessions)




Click here and follow us to keep up to date on this and many other shows.