A broken washing machine in an old house, somewhere in the woods, an older woman with secrets and a repairman with a seemingly easy task. That is the set-up for Fix – a play written by Julie Tsang and performed at The Pleasance. Inspired by the South Korean film Lady Vengeance and with elements borrowed from Japanese Ghost Stories and old folk tales, the play draws the audience into a mystical world where we start to question what is true and what isn’t.
Kevin (Mikey Anthony-Howe), a repairman in his late twenties has set out to complete his last job of the day. The call leads him to Li Na (Tina Chiang) who lives in a remote house in the forest and is desperately looking for someone to fix her washing machine. The machine appears to be off-kilter, just like the small-talk the two of them engage in, after a short while.
Wrapped into a casual conversation about pets, the past and modern technology is a dark story that slowly unravels as the play proceeds. It is almost like a tree growing roots into the earth – a picture Li Na repeatedly mentions during their interaction. Questions start to arise as Kevin learns that the older lady never leaves the house, doesn’t have reception in the forest, doesn’t even own a mobile phone. How did he get there? How did she call for him?
Suspense is built up as strange things happen – mysterious banging noises, a picture in a frame that constantly seems to be changing and a washing machine that just can’t seem to be fixed. What is going on, and why does the lady call Kevin by a different name? Everyone is desperately waiting for the big reveal, and when it is finally presented, it is already too late. The suspense has been drawn out for too long and the dark past of Anthony-Howe’s character does not come as a surprise when it is finally uncovered.
Fix is labelled with a content advisory and though it may keep the audience at the edge of their seats at times, it does not deliver the goose-bump inducing effect that one might expect. It feels like a semi-scary bedtime story that is meant to address the issues of trauma, mental health and running away from the past, but does so at a counteractive pace.
Chiang’s performance, on the other hand, is astonishingly well executed. She has no problems convincing the audience that she’s an old fragile lady, before quickly taking on a menacing persona that could’ve come straight out of a horror film, and not soon after portraying a young, helpless girl. The play is also supported by dim, melancholy lighting design by Ali Hunter, and well-fitting sound (Richard Bell) that creates an atmosphere I wouldn’t want to find myself in when visiting a dark forest.
Unfortunately, Fix is neither a scary ghost story nor a thought-provoking piece about facing the past (no matter how terrible it might be), which leaves it to stand as an entertaining, gloomy piece of theatre for a rainy Thursday evening.
Fix is playing at The Pleasance Theatre until 1 February. For more information and tickets, visit The Pleasance Theatre website.