Frankie is the creation of London-based performer and theatre-maker Amy Gwilliam and made her world premiere at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, where she regaled her tour participants – AKA potential investors – with plans to knock down buildings and replace them with new and luxurious apartments and offices.
She will make her Adelaide Fringe debut this weekend with tours leaving from the Garden of Unearthly Delights.
Gwilliam, who describes Frankie Foxstone AKA The Profit as “the voodoo doll of the middle classes”, says the character hails from both her anger and her joy.
What inspired Amy Gwilliam the theatre-maker to create Frankie Foxstone AKA The Profit?
Country Life, the magazine. It’s a high-end property magazine selling million-pound properties in the UK and across the world and I used to read it on the loo at my godmother’s when I was a child, fantasising over which mansion would be mine when I was older. When I picked it up a few years ago, I was shocked. The description of properties for sale was just absurd. Toxic. Hilarious.
It exposes the trap of capitalism through a web of seductive, vapid words and images. I wanted to find a way of exploring this theatrically. Cue Frankie Foxstone and her “development” world.
She’s described as “the granddaughter of Margaret Thatcher, the godless daughter of Boris Johnson, and the lost twin of Ivanka Trump” – which, frankly, sounds quite terrifying. Tell us more about her…
I suppose Frankie was inevitable for the ’80s child of a comedy director and a chartered surveyor! From early on I breathed in Mum’s black humour and Dad’s fantastically boring photos of leisure centres, car parks and new developments. (Oh, and his jokes – he’s a cad at heart.)
She’s become a fierce and fabulous mask through which to see the world in a different way; she gives me a licence to say and do the things I would never otherwise imagine; or, as one audience member brilliantly put it, “she’s what happens when you tell your kids they can do anything”. We all have a Frankie harbouring within us.
Each time I bring her out to play, she acquires a new bite – and a new outfit. Politics is never static, the world is always falling apart somehow, and she’s always got something to say (and do) about it. Since Trump came to power, her popularity has grown. And now with Boris Johnson, she’s all about “charisma”. Needless to say, she’ll be getting in touch with your Prime Minister.
She’s fearless, says the first thing that comes to mind, and doesn’t give a sh*t about consequences. It is what makes her so playful, and so dangerous. I have a love-hate relationship with her – she’s wickedly fun to pretend to be, but leaves a sour taste.
Adelaide folk can be fiercely protective of their green spaces – especially the Parklands. How concerned should they be about Frankie’s development ambitions? Will she want to take the axe to our gum trees and replace them all with high-rises?
Well, the trouble with Frankie – as with all people who abuse their power, or are hungry for it – is that she’ll make you feel like you’ve got a voice. She’ll make you believe she gives a sh*t about your gum trees, and then suddenly you’ve blinked and they’ve been lopped to the ground. She offers you a dream, but the dream has only one direction – towards Profit and Progress. Nothing else makes sense to her.
As a theatre-maker making site-specific work it’s always incredibly interesting getting stuck into a new territory – getting to know the local issues, and teasing them out through the reworking of the script, and in improvised play.
Frankie is arriving at an incredibly difficult time for Australia, and potentially one of radical change. That is challenging to confront, but exciting. I think the Fringe audiences will be hungry for her!
What role does the audience play in her interactive walking tour?
Ooh, it’s a good question. As I’ve created and adapted the show over the last years, the role of the audience has changed – from locals, to investors, to protesters. There was a time when everyone got cast according to their position on the property ladder, but the brief has relaxed, and I think it’s more compelling for audiences – and provocative. I think each person who meets her imagines a different relationship to her, and the reason they are here.
But, yes, it is always interactive; the audience is involved on every level. She – as much as I – wants to get to know each and every one of you. It’s a primal urge to play and break down the barriers that normally keep us apart. It’s also a sort of live action pyramid scheme. You’ll never look back, I promise!
We’re told Frankie’s tour will make people laugh and think – will it also make them look at their city differently?
Maybe the tour takes place in a part of the city you have never been to, or maybe you know it deep in your heart. Either way, Frankie transforms the way you’ll see it. When sacred public spaces – be they cobbled streets in Edinburgh, railway arches in London, the beach in Suffolk, or park land in Adelaide – are threatened with brash, bold and apparently non-negotiable development, we see the hidden wonders in them. And they become worth fighting for, before it’s too late.
In my little world, humour is a force to bring people together and to wake us up. Frankie seems to be particular good at doing this!
Frankie Foxstone AKA The Profit: Walking Tour will take place on various dates throughout the Fringe, from February 14 until March 15, with ticket holders meeting at the main box office in the Garden of Unearthly Delights.
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