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Review: Fix (Pleasance Theatre)

Julie Tsang's psychological thriller runs at the north London venue this month

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
Mikey Anthony-Howe in Fix
© Nicole Latchana

It was only last year that writer Julie Tsang had her play The Family Unit longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize. Recognising the danger of making that achievement an albatross around her neck, it is only natural that expectations are reasonable for Fix, Tsang's debut psychological thriller. The new play tells the story of a repairman Kevin (played by Mikey Anthony-Howe) drawn to the house of a mysterious woman living in the middle of nowhere. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that they have a shared past despite Kevin's best attempts to bury his childhood memories.

The play's set design is a highlight despite being a rather understated affair. Designer Rachel Wingate uses props to good effect, with a faulty radio in particular becoming increasingly significant as the show goes on. Using radio warnings to dislocate the strange house from time or place is an intriguing aspect of the story, which itself toys with mystical themes but never quite manages to develop these fully – an opportunity lost here.

Richard Bell and Ali Hunter's respective sound and lighting designs are particularly noteworthy – indeed it becomes hard to separate the punishing rain and howling wind coursing throughout the theatre with the equivalent dreary weather outside of the north London venue. The story's multiple climaxes are well served by both of these creative aspects, but the moments lack such narrative tension that it is difficult to feel shocked despite the design.

The script is itself the biggest problem with Fix, a narrative that allows itself to coast and drift through the story without convincingly grabbing the audience's imagination. For the most part, the two characters exchange menial chatter and the nagging feeling of 'when will this get going' only grows stronger as the play progresses. The storyline is shrouded in a cloak of mystery that attempts to make the plot enigmatic and interesting, but comes across more confusing.

Fix is overly concerned with metaphor and symbolism and lacks the sense of excitement or suspense. The last five minutes – intended to serve as some sort of plot reveal – aren't nearly enough to save the production, which feels incoherent and listless.