Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Theatre review: The Fix

Director Michael Strassen seems to be drawn to musicals about American politics: After killing off a bunch of US Presidents in Assassins a couple of years ago, he returns to the Union to tell the story of a man groomed all his life for high office in The Fix. When an apparently sure-thing Presidential candidate in the early 1960s has an erotic asphyxiation mishap, his widow Violet (Liz May Brice) decides that if she can't be the wife of the President she'll be his mother, and focuses on feckless, big-haired son Cal (Louis Maskell.) With the aid of Cal's wheelchair-bound uncle Grahame (Miles Western) doing spin-doctor duties, the perfect career trajectory to the White House is planned. But Cal proves harder to harder to control than expected: His womanising, cocaine addiction and association with a local mob boss can be easily dealt with, but his tendency to be honest at unexpected moments is another problem altogether.

The Fix tells a pretty straightforward story of political clichés that doesn't really hold any surprises but does so in style, and the songs (book and lyrics by John Dempsey, music by Dana P. Rowe) are almost without exception either toe-tappers or showstoppers. Dempsey's lyrics often have a dry, odd quality that makes me wonder if, as was the case with his take on Assassins, there's a level of humour in the piece that Strassen hasn't quite found. The cast are all strong singers and Brice gives good ice queen, and Strassen choreographs them in some ambitiously entertaining, for such a small venue, dance routines. But although there's no question Maskell can sing, his delivery of every single line, whether spoken or sung, in the same pained, nasal bark is like a parody of Musical Theatre ActingTM and very distracting.

Still, this obscure little musical proves a good find. Donovan Preston as Cal's drug-dealing bodyguard, and Daryl Armstrong and Will Pearce in the ensemble provide a bit of male eye-candy in a lively production of a show whose score has a better hit-rate than most musicals.

The Fix by John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe is booking until the 14th of July at the Union Theatre.

Running time: 2 hours 35 minutes including interval.

2 comments:

  1. Yes we are all entitled to our opinion but you must have been listening to something else.

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  2. Superb production showcasing an exceptional and rare talent... Maskell - that vocal range and projection is phenominal.

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