Theater Review: "The Fix" At The International City Theatre
This same cynicism and uncertainty is manifested in the International City Theatre’s production of “The Fix.” Directed by Randy Brenner, the “rated R” rock musical tells of the widow and brother of a presidential candidate. After his death, they team up to get his substance abusing bum of a son, Cal (Adam Simmons), to the White House in his place. As Violet Chandler (Alix Korey), the widow says, “If I can’t be the wife of the president, you can bet your ass I’ll be his mother.” The pair manipulate Cal’s life, enlisting him in the army, marrying him off to a typical American sweetheart, and dictating his speeches and views on political issues. Beginning as a humorous, sardonic portrait of the manipulative world of politics, the story grows darker as it progresses. Ultimately, we learn that in the world of politics, true honesty is quickly silenced.
The set, designed by Stephen Gifford, follows the show's political themes. The pillars and balconies are reminiscent of the White House, and the patterns of the American flag color the floor of the stage. When illuminated by light, the pillars and the flag patterns on the stage reveal cracks, gaping holes, and fading paint. In the background, there hover dark silhouettes, representing the hollow public. Props and set decorations are not lacking in “The Fix,” but they are simple enough, and are constantly moving on and off the stage, thus preventing any clutter.
The cast is strong, consisting of nine members (which marks a sharp decrease from the 19 members of the original production which premiered in London in 1997), and it manages the character switching smoothly. Sal Mistretta, playing Graham Chandler, the uncle, is a veteran from the U.S. premiere of the musical, in which he played the same character. As the crutches- and wheelchair-bound brains of the campaign, he has great presence, which is enhanced by his deep voice and comical facial expressions. William T. Lewis, who portrays Reed Candler, Cal’s dead father, though only appearing occasionally as a ghost or hallucination, encompasses the sleek elegance and casual charm that lie on the surface (and only the surface) of the typical charismatic politician. Alix Korey dazzles as Violet, Cal’s mother. With a botoxed face, pants-suit, and sunglasses, she is always in control, all feelings and considerations aside. In the second act, we get a glimpse of her driving philosophy and the frustrated emotions that go hand in hand in the musical number “Spin.” The number catches the audience by surprise, and Korey blows it away with a rare and powerful display of sincere emotion, great intensity and a strong voice.
Having enjoyed the performances and score of “The Fix,” one may be left to wonder what it was all for. Though it seems to be at first, the musical is not simply a wry satire of today’s political world; it grows too dramatic for that. However, it does not have enough character depth or a complex enough plot to be a legitimate drama. The politics of it, too, are oversimplified; as Grahame says when dictating to Cal how to address issues that the press may question him about: “Nothing too abstract, nothing to extreme.” Lying somewhere between parody and drama, “The Fix” voices the frustration that so many feel with politics today, the frustration that has brought us to desensitization from that world altogether. It may give you a few bites for thought. As for me, it left me downright depressed.
Reach reporter Sara here.