Fix Number Six

Fix Number Six is a fun and energetic screwball comedy by Jerry Polner that is getting its first full-scale production at the Planet Connections Theatre Festivity. In it, Jane, a smart and unflappable woman who works at a travel agency, finds herself at the receiving end of a surprising proposition from Fred, a business consultant with an apparently limitless supply of cash. What Fred wants Jane to do is to apply her smarts and organizational brilliance to his chaotic existence: she is to fix the various messes/predicaments he finds himself in. Fix Number One, for example, is to get his annoying, lazy nephew Dirk off his back. Fix Number Two is to convince his sister Tessie to give him the beach house he was supposed to have inherited.

It's a delightful premise for farce and satire, and in its first scenes it's pretty hilarious. Moira Stone's superb portrayal of Jane is invaluable: her delivery of a monologue in Scene One in which she sells Fred on the idea of a preposterously overwrought vacation in Bhutan is spectacularly funny; with her tall, angular body, her splendid timing, and her delicious physicality she made me think of John Cleese in any number of Monty Python sketches.

Some of the characters that Jane comes up against are marvelously eccentric foils. Colin Chapin as the 20-and-a-half year old Dirk is a portrait of narcissistic overgrown adolescence. The always reliable Arthur Aulisi as Jane's boss Howard is the epitome of lazy, lying lechery. And there's also Alyssa Simon as the weirdly indecisive yet manipulative Tessie and Mateo Moreno as an entrepreneur named Ricky who has a plan to open a bank where people can socialize and dance.

But Polner's script ultimately disappointed me in a few key ways. First, there's a disconnect between the distributed blurb and what happens in the story: the program guide says that Jane dreams of being an international spy, but while one character mentions that she's involved in espionage she definitely is not.

Most problematic for me, though is the fact that Jane's character seems to morph halfway through Fix Number Six. She starts out as someone who can seemingly do anything, who would brush off the troubles and tribulations of lesser mortals like so much dust on her lapel. But as she gets more deeply involved with Fred, these abilities abandon her; and Fred isn't presented as an individual with the kind of power to transform her in this way.

I also missed an element of screwball comedy that I think is pretty vital, namely, some romance. Jane should have a soulmate somewhere in this mix, to give us a relationship to root for.

All this said, Fix Number Six is still a pleasant enough diversion, especially in its able performances (the cast also includes Adam Lebowitz-Lockard as Fred and Victoria Anne Miller as his ex) and in its spirited direction by Michael Criscuolo. It's fun to see these indie theater stalwarts playing with (and off) each other with such apparent glee.