BWW Review: FIX, The Pleasance
Kevin is called to repair a washing machine in the middle of the woods. As he tries to fix it, he grows increasingly uneasy in the presence of the elderly lady who sent for him. She seems to know a lot about him and the tales she tells him don't quite check out. Julie Tsang debuts an eerie and haunting play that toys with reality and conceals a dark and disturbing secret.
Director Jen Tan leans into the otherworldly quality of the script. She sets the scene on a long in-the-round stage and immersing it in Ali Hunter's hazy and atmospheric lights while Richard Bell's sound design accompanies the action with discreet effectiveness. Both lighting and soundscape become crucial in the development of the story and its narrative, building the tension and pushing the focus on Mikey Anthony-Howe and Tina Chiang's performances.
The actors are exceptional as they hint at the nature of their characters from the very start with strikingly different deliveries. Anthony-Howe's youthful approach is rooted in realism, while Chiang's almost declamatory address introduces Li Na as a mysterious personality. Tan instills suspicion in the audience before Tsang's script has even had a chance to kick into gear properly.
While as a whole Fix works really well and the build-up is steady, certain moments of idleness between the explosions of psychological energy extend beyond their lifespan and meddle with the pace of the piece. Tsang doesn't hand out information easily, and both Kevin and the crowd have to work for it while Li Na transforms into a hunter circling her prey.
As she manipulates Kevin's perception of his surroundings, the audience's response to the story almost undergoes the same treatment with Tan's fully controlling their reception of it. Lights change subtly, and the sound coming from the washing machine becomes a hunting tattoo while the two confront each other gradually.
Superstition and jarring truths coexist within Li Na and Kevin, with the latter ends up being the subject of an involuntary exploration of guilt and purpose. Tsang and her characters don't provide their spectators with answers - nor a definite resolution for all that matters - but prefer to leave them on their own to connect the dots of the chillingly spellbinding events.
By the end, Fix feels like an oddly transformative play. Tsang's storytelling and Tan's vision become one and haunt the spectator outside the reach of their show.
Image courtesy of Nicole Latchana