EFR - Reviews of Fix

Fix

Thu 3rd – Sun 27th August 2017

reviews

Adele Cooke

at 14:58 on 24th Aug 2017

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Exploring the “bonds within brains. And the bonds between brains”, ‘Fix’ attempts to shine a light on the causes of addiction and explore its many faucets. This is clearly a relevant topic, as two million people suffer with some form of addiction in the UK. When approaching this subject, the play primarily illustrates the roles of partner, carer and enabler to humanise the dangers of addiction and its terrible ramifications. This is a worthwhile focus, and was well researched, as the cast illustrated a clear understanding of the causes and manifestations of an addiction.

Initially this seemed like a fine structure, as the cast each characterise one sufferer before singing in unison. However, the show was more of an exercise into psychology than performance. The cast reeled off facts about the brain’s operation which were neither entertaining or enriching to the structure. Instead this felt like a return to GCSE science classes- and at times was painful to watch. Moreover, the cast’s attempts to couple information and song were primarily unsuccessful, as songs about dopamine and the number of casinos in the UK were sadly poorly written and constructed. Instead members of the audience were seen desperately trying to suppress giggles- myself sadly included. This immature tone was then elaborated upon when the audience were asked to sing along to a catchy song about dopamine, which was both painfully cringeworthy and terribly humorous. Other elements of audience interaction were also laboured and awkward, as Rianna Dearden attempted to hit on a woman in the front row to illustrate an analogy. Instead this made both the woman and the remaining audience look rather uncomfortable and the analogy was long forgotten. This seemed erroneous to the plot and was neither particularly comedic or effective. I also felt that the close of the play was lazy, as the cast re-hashed the introduction as the finale, which added nothing to the performance but time. Instead the cast should have highlighted places were individuals can seek help if they are battling addiction, or charities they could support. This would have been more worthwhile and beneficial both to the audience and to those battling from addiction.

However, throughout the cast clearly illustrated a passion for the topic, and were full of energy. Moreover, during group drumming sections the ensemble illustrated their clear fondness for each other, and obviously enjoy performing together. Evidently this is a performance they have invested time and research into, but sadly due to its poor execution and score this show cannot be called a success.

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Tamsin Bracher

at 15:03 on 24th Aug 2017

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‘This is a story, from us to you’ Worklight Theatre claims on its programme. The story is one of behavioural addiction – gambling, betting and sexual – presented to the audience alongside a bizarre mish-mash of ‘chemical songs’ that explain ‘the bonds within brains. And the bonds between brains’. There was a particularly catchy (and irritating) refrain that sung of ‘Dopamine’, a neurotransmitter that ‘provides the feeling you adore / Keeps you coming back for more’. If ‘Fix’ sounds twee to you, it most decidedly is. I am sure that the affected and nerdy acting from the three scientists (Maggie, Robyn and Zach, respectively played by Fiona Whitelaw, Rianna Dearden and Finlay Cormack) was intended to be ironic, but to what effect? And regardless of its pretensions, this eccentric play was uncomfortable to watch. Its clumsy handling and disjointed feel was all the more unfortunate since the material it dealt with had the potential for originality.

That said, ‘Fix’ powerfully suggests a sense of plurality and interconnection. During the show Fiona, Finlay and Rianna each assume an alter-ego: Fiona becomes the wife of a sex-addict; Finlay a compulsive gambler and Rianna their psychotherapist. Worklight Theatre declares that each character represents innumerable others: addiction is a ‘malady in many masks’ and we are ‘connected in more ways than we can know’. The sentiment is effectively realised in the production’s parallel narratives, interweaving dialogue between the three actors and the repeated statistic that every individual is only one person removed from a million others – on average we will know around one thousand people in our lives, one of whom will know a thousand more ... and so on and so on.

Amongst the plethora of technical names and scientific research, ‘Fix’ calls attention to some shocking and profound truths. Did you know that the average age of someone who now watches porn is eleven? Did you realistically know anything about Dopamine and its importance to the brain’s reward and pleasure reflex? And do you perhaps think that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but could instead be connection? At one point, Fiona movingly declares of her husband that ‘because I know the best of him, it makes it easier to accept the worst’. It is just a shame that these moments were lost in a technicoloured whirlwind of neon lighting and phosphorescence. The excessive earnestness of the three actors was fundamentally reductive; the comedy was slapstick but it may as well have been slabberdash. Over-the-top and undercooked, the majority of ‘Fix’ would have done well on CBeebies prime time.

At the beginning of the production Robyn announces that this show will be a ‘party’, an ode to the problem of addiction. Unhappily I did not wish to attend for long. With a rush of oxygen, the release of glucose and an increased heart rate and blood flow, I breathed a sigh of relief as I walked out of the theatre.

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