The Fix examines psychosis through the eyes of three men from three different eras: Richard is a Victorian schizophrenic, and is played with lovely bumbling lightness and comic timing by Euan Forsyth (also the co-artistic director of this young company); Dicky is a WW1 soldier with an admirably acted stammer, played by David Pitt, who also captures the cocktail of innocence and pain drawn from war; and Cameron Moore makes up the threesome playing Rick - a teen in 70’s America being “treated” for homosexuality.
I think though that the lightness of tone hampers this play. The moments when things get dark are very good and the company can clearly handle this kind of subject-matter well
The three parts are well written and vivaciously performed, and their relationships work well throughout this piece. Richard is often the butt of the joke - not knowing many of the references made by the other two. He is also the most mysterious character, and the one who seems most obviously ill. Dicky and Rick have a more complex relationship, with Rick encouraging the repressed soldier to enter into a gentle and affectionate gay relationship with him. Rick’s constant carefulness not to mention the Second World War is played as a measure of his care for Dicky.
Apart from their now being in some kind of institution together (which is never explained but to the writer Anna Forsyth’s credit, immediately feels natural), the three act out scenes giving back-story to the other characters. These are often innovative in use of space, and very tightly put together - hinting at but not fully explaining each character’s mental decline. They’re also very funny - from Richard being caught out quoting Henry V in Dicky’s WW1 flashback to Rick’s reaction to post electro-shock nausea, “I always throw up when I’m horny.” In fact the script and the actors’ natural chemistry keeps the laughs coming throughout, and the 50 minutes flies by keeping the audience engaged and sympathetic.
I think though that the lightness of tone hampers this play. The moments when things get dark - such as Rick’s electro-shock scene and the tale of Richard’s abandonment by his parents, are very good, and the company can clearly handle this kind of subject-matter well. The Fix however, doesn’t do as it promised - examine the history of psychosis, or show characters pushed ‘to their psychological and physical breaking point’. Not that every examination of mental health should be unfailingly serious, but this play veers a little too far the other way. It is never quite believable that any of these men are ill enough to warrant incarceration, and with the exception of Rick, the journey into that place is largely ignored. By the end there are various theories the audience can come up with. Maybe that’s the point, but it’s done in a way that feels like incompleteness rather than mystery. The Fix is a promising piece though - and I feel that Anna Forsyth has the talent and style to extend it into a more satisfying one.