As public outcry over foxes reaches disturbing levels of disproportion a hauntingly humorous new play is set to lampoon the issue.
Foxfinder, which opens on October 12 at Putney Arts Threatre, is written by Dawn King and has echoes of influence from Kafka and Arthur Miller's The Crucible.
King's setting is an English countryside on the brink of crisis, subject to rigorous official inspection and haunted by the "red beast" which has been deemed public enemy number one.
In this near-future world of rations and scarcity, one couple, Samuel and Judith, are struggling and their farm is under suspicion of vulpine interference so a foxfinder, named Bloor, is sent to investigate.
For Bloor, the fox is the viscious enemy of man, with the ability to destroy farms, affect the weather, cause psychological damage amongst men and even kill children.
We see how Bloor's fox fixation leads neighbours to betray each other, and drives the innocent Samuel into a state of deluded guilt.
Will he find contamination or collaboration; denial or denunciation?
The play is clearly meant to be a parable, and the fox is meant to symbolise the irrational search for scapegoats to explain the ills that haunt mankind.
But King's sharp sense of humour, narrative drive and realism prevents it from falling into gothic absurdity.
The Putney Arts Theatre production is directed by Lesley Strachan and will be the amateur premiere of this tense and chilling drama, winner of the Papatango New Writing competition 2011.
The play, which is derived from a book of the same name, was originally performed at the Finborough Theatre in December last year to critical acclaim.
Foxfinder; Putney Arts Theatre; Ravenna Road, Putney SW15; Fri, Oct 12-Sat, Oct 13 & Thu, Oct 18-Sat, 20 Oct; 7.45pm; £10, £7 concs; Tickets in advance from 020 8788 6943; Not suitable for children.