This week, the Up in the Gods theatre company has brought the history of psychosis to life in the Lass O’Gowrie. Three extraordinary men, from three different time periods interact and overlap with each other in a dark tale of unlikely friendship. Victorian schizophrenic Richard, shell-shocked WWI soldier Dicky and young homosexual American Rick from the 1970’s are about to undergo controversial treatment to become ‘fixed’.
Upon arriving at the theatre, you are immediately plunged into this dark world. A stern female nurse (in reality writer Anna Forsyth) stands guard over the cell where Dicky and Richard reside reminding you not to have sharp objects on you!
Our protagonists are judged to be ‘broken’ in one way, shape or form and are undergoing shock treatment in order to fix them. Through the use of imaginary flashback sequences, we get a window into their previous lives outside of Parkview. Over the course of the play, the characters stoic personas begin to crack and crumble – their story is about as much as the therapy they can provide for each other as well as the nasty shock treatment they receive. Without a psychiatrist as a foil to the three characters you are left to try and figure out whether what you are witnessing is in the character’s heads, or actually real.
Darkly comic at times, the script can provide (much-needed) light relief when needed. Writer Anna Forsyth is clearly adept at crafting believable characters in realistic worlds. With some aspects, especially the theme of psychosis and Dicky’s shellshock – there are echoes of Pat Barker’s Regeneration. Alistair Zyggu’s direction is tight; certainly in less safe hands the end result wouldn’t have been as impressive. The minimalistic staging and inventive lighting works well to accentuate the performances. The intensity, or lack, of light heightens the emotions and acts as a neat metaphor for the mental strain felt by the characters.
All three leads are very accomplished. Richard Edwards is terrific with his manic bubbling laughter wavering to his fraught and terrifying distress. I don’t know whether this is intentional but when at the front of the stage he locked eyes with some of the audience – this combined with his schizophrenic fidgeting makes for a remarkably unnerving, but entirely in keeping, experience! Hayden Thomas perhaps gives the most rounded portrayal of the three. Dicky is perhaps the most ‘damaged’ of the three characters, and he portrays the stiff upper lip and stammer down to a tee. Michael Loftus portrays Rick’s wonder, and perhaps, naivety beautifully, his character alienating yet intriguing the others. All three are able to switch in and out of their characters with ease as they take on other roles in flashback sequences.
The Fix is uncompromising is its portrayal of psychosis. Cleverly constructed to allow you to draw your own conclusions, and whilst at times it is nasty and brutal, The Fix is a remarkable piece of claustrophobic drama that you’d be well recommended to catch.
The Fiction Stroker gives The Fix four strokes out of five:
The Fix is on at the Lass O’Gowrie until Saturday 19 May, weekdays 7.30pm, Saturday 6pm. Tickets available from here