To guarantee that a show stands out in Edinburgh, two of the ‘easiest’ ways are to have a premise that has some shock value or to have something ‘original’ to say. The latter is easier said than done, but it is possible as Worklight Theatre can testify with their latest show Fix. Several years in the making, the cornerstone of the show is research – primarily interviews with many different people regarding their addictions or associated counselling.
Obviously, one of the things that automatically comes to mind when the word ‘addiction’ is mentioned is drug-taking. However, as the show explains, an addiction by definition doesn’t necessarily involve the taking of substances. It does, however, involve compulsive behaviour that has detrimental ramifications for oneself and one’s relationships with others.
As explained earlier, interviews were carried out with many people for the show and their experiences were distilled and amalgamated into three composite characters. Each of the characters are played by actor-musicians who take on a specific challenging situation. Fin Cormack plays Zach, a husband and father of a young daughter, who has a penchant for gambling. At the other end of the spectrum there’s Fiona Whitelaw who plays Maggie, the wife of a man addicted to viewing webcam girls – or rather one woman in particular. From the counselling perspective there’s Robyn (played by Rianna Dearden), who while considerably younger than her peers, is in the thick of it when it comes to listening to how addiction affects the afflicted and their loved ones.
Structurally, Fix can be divided into three branches: the emperical evidence, the characters and the songs. Playing ‘themselves’, the actors explain the scientific schools of thought regarding addiction such as the role that Serotonin and Dopamine plays – biochemicals the brain exudes when one is doing something pleasurable. This ‘feel-good’ feeling becomes an end itself, creating a self-perpetuating cycle of behaviour.
To put this into context, we have the characters of Zach and Maggie who both wrestle with their feelings and will power, but ultimately feel ‘impotent’. For Zach, it is the realisation that his family doesn’t believe he will ever kick his habit, while for Maggie it is the conflict with trying to be patient, but deep down feeling angry. The songs that punctuate the show at regular intervals nicely break up the facts and the dramatic scenes. The songs also encapsulate what’s been said to date – a cathartic means of digesting the information and emotional content subliminally.
Fix does a thorough job of giving an overview to the nature of addiction, in a fashion that’s easily understood. As an ‘overview’ on the subject, there’s certainly plenty more that can be said and no doubt will be tackled again in the future. Worklight Theatre’s foresight in tackling subjects of this nature will keep it good stead, making theatre that’s socially relevant, as well as entertaining.
© Michael Davis 2017
Fix runs at Underbelly, Cowgate (Venue 61) at 17:40: Aug 9-15, 17-27 (1 hour 10 minutes).