Tag Archives: Pleasance Theatre

Fix

Fix

★★★

Pleasance Theatre

Fix

Fix

Venue

Reviewed – 16th January 2020

★★★

 

“an interesting experience for theatre goers who like their plays cryptic and undetermined”

 

Fix is a play about an old woman who lives alone in a mysterious wood, and a repairman who comes to mend her very old washing machine. Julie Tsang’s play is part thriller, part mystery, all set in a puzzling location that could be a forest in, well, just about anywhere. But before one starts thinking Grimm’s Brothers’ fairytale, it is clear that the Chinese woman, Li Na, who inhabits the house, is no western witch waiting to ensnare young children with sweets. She is, however, clearly part of a Chinese mythology, either traditional or reimagined, who may, or may not, have dragons in her attic.

The premise for this story is straightforward, but from the moment Kevin arrives at Li Na’s house, everything else dissolves into ambiguity. So it is for the audience—the moment we enter the downstairs space at the Pleasance Theatre. The set (designed by Rachel Wingate) is low lit (lights designed by Ali Hunter), and the fog in the air creates a further sense of indistinct boundaries. The seating bleeds into the set on one side. So it’s a nice touch when the cast enters the back of the stage from the street and injects a sense of a concrete world outside before enclosing us once again in this enigmatic space. Added to all this mist and mystery is Richard Bell’s sound design, which is also highly appropriate to the theme, and which adds yet another layer of doubt.

The play begins with a voice telling us a myth about a “magnificent tree on six legs.” Then Kevin steps into the house, and his first response is to tell Li Na, very firmly, that her washing machine is too expensive to fix, and that she’s better off just buying a new one. Things get weird. Li Na doesn’t want a new machine, despite having the money to buy one. She wants this one fixed, and fixed tonight. She has money, she has beer if Kevin’s thirsty, she has tea for his headache. She keeps repeating, ominously, that he “will be here awhile.” She asks a lot of questions about whether her house is the last call of the day, and whether he has anyone he needs to go home too. Playwright Tsang has great skill in building suspense. Actors Mikey Anthony-Howe and Tina Chiang present characters Kevin and Li Na as fully rounded and believable. Fix is ably supported by Jen Tan’s direction.

But the problem with Fix is that, plot wise, it wanders in much the same way that Kevin once wandered through Li Na’s woods as a boy. At any point during the play, the audience might be wondering “is this the moment dragons burst through the ceiling”? “Why does Li Na steal a tool from Kevin’s tool bag if she’s not planning to brain him with it”? And despite all these warnings that something is not quite right in Li Na’s house, Kevin doesn’t seem to want to escape nearly enough. Instead, this experience is a seventy minute stroll through a series of shifting situations from a real problem (fixing the washing machine) to less explicit problems (what else has Kevin been summoned to fix?) with a lack of a clear resolution at the end.

In conclusion, Fix is best summed up as an interesting experience for theatre goers who like their plays cryptic and undetermined. It does take a fresh look at the more traditional murder mystery, but even that may be reading too much into this perplexing situation.

 

Reviewed by Dominica Plummer

Photography by Nicole Latchana

 

Fix

Pleasance Theatre until 1st February

 

Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
The Perfect Companion | ★★★★ | October 2019
The Unseen Hour | ★★★★ | October 2019
Endless Second | ★★★ | November 2019
Escape From Planet Trash | ★★★ | November 2019
Heroin(e) For Breakfast | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Land Of My Fathers And Mothers And Some Other People | ★★★★ | November 2019
Madame Ovary | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Wireless Operator | ★★★★ | November 2019
Gobby | ★★★½ | December 2019
Tom Brace | ★★★½ | December 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews

 

Tom Brace: Brace of Spades

★★★½

Pleasance Theatre

Brace of Spades

Tom Brace: Brace of Spades

Pleasance Theatre

Reviewed – 3rd December 2019

★★★½

 

“an impressive display of the improbable generously peppered with enthusiastic banter”

 

Tom Brace is a cheeky chappie with a glint in his eye, and a pocketful of wholesome, homespun tricks. On this particular evening it’s unfortunate that half of the already intimate audience is made up of unwilling sixth-formers. But Mr Brace remains unperturbed, and does his utmost to win them over with an impressive display of the improbable generously peppered with enthusiastic banter. Starting strong with the audience estimating the price of his dapper chequer jacket, lo and behold, the tag still attached shows the exact amount we guessed, down to the penny. The evening continues in a similar vein of low-production, and expert execution.

As might be expected, the chilly British audience are rather hard to thaw, and Brace does well to make light of their reluctance to join in. But in doing so he’s a little overly self-deprecating. It’s a fine line, but after a while, best not to repeatedly tell the audience you know they don’t want to be there. That being said, the smaller members of the audience could not have been more delighted with both the showcase of skill and Brace’s friendly chat. And once an audience member, grown or growing, is finally cajoled on to the stage, Brace does well to utilise their uneasiness and turn it into part of the act.

Unlike a lot of children’s shows, this is ideal for both parents and off-spring alike, and the home-made nature of the production (a tent making do as a ‘crystal dome’, or ‘Who wants to be a millionaire…shortbread owner’ for example) does well to put the audience at ease. It’s not really for adults unaccompanied by children, but that being said, it’s only an hour long, so there’s no harm done if you’re in the neighbourhood and fancy a bit of good, clean fun.

 

Reviewed by Miriam Sallon

 


Tom Brace: Brace of Spades

Pleasance Theatre

 

Previously reviewed at this venue:
The Hypnotist | ★★½ | October 2019
The Perfect Companion | ★★★★ | October 2019
The Unseen Hour | ★★★★ | October 2019
Endless Second | ★★★ | November 2019
Escape From Planet Trash | ★★★ | November 2019
Heroin(e) For Breakfast | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Land Of My Fathers And Mothers And Some Other People | ★★★★ | November 2019
Madame Ovary | ★★★★★ | November 2019
Wireless Operator | ★★★★ | November 2019
Gobby | ★★★½ | December 2019

 

Click here to see our most recent reviews