The Fix Review 1997

Wednesday, 14 May, 1997

With the death of presidential candidate Reed Chandler, his widow Violet, continues to scheme for the family’s rise to political power by priming her son to follow in his father’s footsteps. But, her son, Cal, is a bit of a rogue and needs to be trained in the necessary skills, so Violet asks her brother in law, Grahame , who has a lot of political connections, to help. When Cal finally wins his first political position, he becomes involved with a night club dancer and the Mafia as well as becoming hooked on drugs. All this is covered up , but when Cal has cured his addiction, he announces to the press about his past heroin habit and says he is going to clean the city of drug pushers and the like , which results in tragic consequences.

The story is a little far fetched and predictable and the music is unimaginative with no memorable songs. The only credible strength of the show is the talented cast. John Barrowman, who plays Cal Chandler , has a great voice and plays the part well. Kathryn Evans portrayal of Violet, is a convincing performance of a manipulative mother craving power for her son . Philip Quest, is equally impressive as the embittered disabled gay uncle. But, these fine actors are not enough to save the show.

The musical has not received good notices from the popular press. BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE of THE TIMES is in the same mind as me saying, “The Fix lacks wit, imagination and plausibility. “ NICHOLAS DE JONGH of THE EVENING STANDARD is more scathing, describing the musical as , “..a roughly knocked-up show”, he then goes on to say “ The Fix doesn’t fit. The Donmar really ought to cut down on musicals.” PETER HEPPLE of THE STAGE liked the first act but described the second act as taking “a downward plunge” and goes on to say that the score descends into “ pompous and ponderous rockism, which carries unfortunate memories of seventies rock musicals..” However, I agree most with CHARLES SPENCER of THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, he says “ No amount of fixing is going to fix The Fix. But you'll probably need one afterwards.”

The show closes at the Donmar on the 14th June it is unlikely,( if we are lucky!) to be seen in the West End again.

(Darren Dalglish)

Having become a committed fan of Sam Mendes and his dynamic Donmar Warehouse after seeing a wonderful "Richard III" (starring Ciaran Hinds) and a quite good "Company" there, I was looking forward to his groundbreaking collaboration with megaproducer Cameron Mackintosh. Their debut is a new musical called The Fix -- a tale of corrupt American politics. Alas, everything about the play is as cliched as its concept: I couldn't find an original idea in the script, lyrics, or music from start to finish. The book is a generic blend of "All the King's Men" and the legend of JFK, with a dash of Nelson Rockefeller:

After the death of presidential candidate Reed Chandler (during sex with his mistress, though of course this is hushed up, as is his party affiliation if any), his Machiavellian widow and brother thrust his lackadaisical son Cal into his place.

Cal is capably played and sung by John Barrowman, who either is Tom Cruise disguised with blond streaks or copied his gestures from "Jerry McGuire." A stint in the Army and lessons in manipulative behavior, plus a steady supply of drugs, turn Cal into a star. When he inevitably falls, his son in turn, etc.

The music reminded me so strongly of "Jesus Christ Superstar" (a pleasant survey of American musical forms, from vaudeville to blues to military) that it was no surprise to hear the woman behind me humming "JCS" as we exited. The audience applauded enthusiastically; but you can get seats any day at the half-price ticket booth. (If you do, sit downstairs -- upstairs is hot, smoky, & stifling.)

(Carol J. Verburg)

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