Fix presented by Unbroken Theatre
What is it?
Unbroken Theatre presents Julie Tsang’s new psychological thriller, in association with the Pleasance and Yellow Earth Theatre, and directed by Jen Tan.
What’s it all about?
Responding to a call-out to fix a broken washing machine, repairman Kevin (Mikey Anthony-Howe) finds himself in an archetypal horror story situation: alone in a house with no WiFi, no phone signal, no landline, and a sinister old woman (Tina Chiang) who charms, coerces, and possibly drugs him into staying. Just the two of them and the eerie thumping noises coming from upstairs - a cat or a dragon, Li Na can’t decide. In the confines of this isolated house, itself deep within the forest Kevin thought he knew so well, having played in every inch of it as a child, this seemingly ordinary man is forced to confront the ghosts of his past. Studded throughout are the East Asian myths and legends of magical trees, cats, powerful dragons, and serpents coiling slowly around their prey. Chiang shines during these moments, captivating her audience with the expertise of a seasoned storyteller.
How did it make me feel?
My experience of this play felt strangely academic. I found myself thinking back to A-Level Economics where I learned the concept of “missing information”, wherein one party lacks a crucial piece of knowledge needed to make an accurate cost-benefit analysis for an economic decision, which can be financially exploited by another party who does have this knowledge. For instance, a repairman who tells a client a washing machine is more broken than it is in order to make more profit for himself. This play, like many successful psychological thrillers and horror stories, turns expectations on their head. While Kevin seems to be an honest man with no ulterior motive, his client Li Na seems to have a great deal of personal information about him, and a significant ulterior motive to keep him in her home.
Mikey Anthony-Howe’s boyish charm opposite Tina Chiang’s eerie movements and witchy aura creates a shifting power dynamic that is both amusing and suitably off-putting. Along with Ali Hunter’s dank and dim lighting, and Richard Bell’s chill-inducing sound design, the entire production gives a satisfyingly creepy atmosphere perfectly suited to the theatre space.
While Fix has all the individual ingredients of a psychological thriller, it lacks the nuance or resolution to truly unsettle or surprise its audience. Tension between the two characters dissolves too quickly to take root, the conversations between them quickly idling into chit chat. It plays more on the nostalgia of its audiences for lost youths, the mistakes made as children and the way that time moves differently relative to age.
With moments of real tenderness and goosebump-inducing effects, Fix is a solid beginning, feeling far more like a first Act of a longer play than a production in and of itself.
Fix is playing at The Pleasance Theatre until the 1st February 2020.
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