Picture the witch-hunting of “The Crucible” at the hands of a modern Orwellian state and you have the broad contours of Dawn King’s “Foxfinder,” which receives an atmospheric, take-no-prisoners co-production from Furious Theatre Company in association with Oregon-based Artists Repertory Theatre.
Set in a dystopian near-future Britain where propaganda and scapegoating go together like tea and crumpets, King’s sci-fi drama posits a wry solution to the central problem facing any self-respecting totalitarian regime seeking to maintain power amid food shortages wrought by climate change: If you can’t target minorities in a post-politically correct world, whom do you single out for blame when things go wrong? Why, those perennial targets of English pest control efforts: foxes.
Under the pretext of investigating suspected misdeeds by the crafty canidae, special government inquisitors wield unlimited power to ensure a compliant populace. A potentially deadly conflict ensues when one of these "foxfinders" (Joshua Weinstein) takes up extended residence at the small farm of a dangerously unstable couple (Shawn Lee, Sara Hennessy) struggling to meet their production quota in the face of crop-damaging floods and the recent death of their young son. The foxfinder insinuates even these disasters attributable to their complicity with foxes — despite objections raised by a defiant neighbor (Amanda Soden) that no one has ever seen the foxes, including the foxfinder himself.