'Sex. Politics. Greed' reads the tagline for 'The Fix', a US-set musical by John Dempsey and Dana P. Rowe. Throw in 'drugs', and you have a neat précis of the show's main themes.
The plot revolves around Cal Chandler (Louis Maskell), whose power-hungry mother Violet (Liz May Brice) and uncle Grahame (Miles Western) groom him for political office after his presidential candidate father (Pete Gallagher) dies while having sex with his secretary. Cal earns his stripes in the army, marries a 'suitable' wife, and becomes a local council member, then governor. He's also quickly entangled with drugs, an ex-stripper and the local mob.
Michael Strassen's staging is dark and edgily minimalist, and the three central performances are superb. Brice's Violet is perfectly judged – a grimly determined, gin-swilling matriarch committed to elevating her son to the presidency whatever it takes.
Western's Grahame is bitter and scheming, with an excellent, caustic delivery. But Maskell stands out as Cal, running the full range from boyish vulnerability to hard-nosed defiance. Some of his vocal phrasing is unusual, but in the best possible way: his voice and his magnetic stage presence set him apart. He's one to watch.
A longer version of this review first appeared on whatsonstage.com