White Fang Review

White Fang, a play based on the novel of the same name, premiered in London at the Park Theatre on Wednesday 13th December.

Set in 1898 in the snowy mountains of Canada, it is the story of Lyzbet Scott, a Native American, raised by a huntsman after her tribe was massacred. Her ‘grandfather’ gives her a wolf cub, White Fang, to raise and the two become the best of friends, spending all their time hunting. When her grandfather agrees to sell his land, events soon become a matter of life and death, retribution and redemption.

If you have read the book by Jack London, then you’ll notice that this production is, in the words of writer and director Jethro Compton, an “interpretation”.  In the novel, a lone wolf is rejected by other wolves and faces brutality from dogs and humans. In this production, the struggle for identity is with Lyzbet. Compton also notes that he added in aspects from other untold stories from around the same time and place.

Mariska Ariya gave a strong performance as the feisty Lyzbet, though her angst can become a little repetitive. Robert G Slade portrays the flawed Weedon Scott. Bebe Sanders as the self-assured, practical, straight-talking Curly had me wanting to know more about her character. Paul Anderson as Beauty Smith, Jonathan Mathews as Tom, and Danny Mahoney round out the cast.

White Fang is bought to life by remarkable puppetry directed by James Silson. Striking in appearance, and displayed through three life stages, I think many in the audience wanted to reach out to pat him. At times his part is small and irrelevant to enable the narrative to focus on Lyzbet.

Many themes are in the play: love, loss, identity, isolation, feminism, sexism, racism, greed, integrity, truth, Indigenous displacement, redemption, and good and evil. In essence, it’s a coming-of-age story where the good triumph over adversary. Yet this also means it is simplistic in parts. In keeping with the era the story is set, there are some parts that are perhaps a tad slow.

Music contributed to the pace, with the inclusion of at least half-a-dozen songs in A Cappella format, mostly sung by Sanders with the company joining in. The original soundtrack was composed and orchestrated by Jonny Sims. The sound effects also assisted in transporting the audience to the setting.

The set was a log cabin with a hessian curtain that could be drawn across to cut the set in half so as to convey the harsh outdoor landscape. As always with Park Theatre, the venue is intimate, and I’d recommend getting a seat towards the front to see the movements when the actors are on the ground. Lighting was effective in changing the setting and the scene changes were smooth. Costumes also contributed to the setting and era of the piece, particularly with the fur lined jackets to convey their lifestyle as hunters.

White Fang is a collaboration between White Wolf Theatre, FreeFall Theatre, Jethro Compton Productions, Worthing Theatres and Park Theatre. It first premiered in Florida in October 2017

Overall a good production that I’d recommend seeing.

Performing at Park Theatre until 13th January 2018. From Tuesday to Saturday at 19.45, with a Thursday and Saturday matinee at 15:15. Tickets are £18 with concessions and young patron prices available. A two-hour run time including a 20 minute intermission. Suitable for 12+.

Address: Park Theatre, Clifton Terrace, Finsbury Park, London, N4 3JP


Phone: 020 7870 6876




Written by Caitlin Neal