Review by Serafina Cusack
The Exceptional Case of Whizz and Drex, written and directed by Fred Kelly is a borderline nonsensical account of the downfall of two men, Whizz and Drex, set in a pay-what-you-want parcel storage facility where they will take more care of your parcel dependent on the amount you pay. This four hander skates between focussing on the humorous business model, some stolen Prussion dolls and the brutal murder of some orphans.
In general, this production is jarring. It is difficult at any given moment to pinpoint exactly what it is about. Drex, played by Louis Strong, is the apparent underdog in the story and is a candidate for most likeable but even he is undercut with crippling social awkwardness and some inappropriate physical outbursts towards his love interest Nadi (Ellen Patterson).
Nadi should have been the most interesting character, a shady love interest at first before being at the helm of the ‘big twist’. But Patterson plays Nadi with such lack of charisma that you wonder how even the awkward, down-on-his luck Drex was sucked in,
Guy Samuels who plays Whizz and Kathryn O’Reilly playing Chief were by far the strongest performers in the cast but they were let down by some weak writing. Samuels gave all he had to a one dimensional cruel boss archetype, even evoking some sympathy when you understand his jealousy, and some laughs at his petty cruelty. O’Reilly is a precise and consistent performer who again brought to life to some very limited character development.
The casting overall didn’t seem to make sense. Despite some individual moments of promise none of the actors seemed to have any chemistry with one another or seemed to adopt complementary styles in this slightly bizarre but not quite absurdist play.
The set designed by Jack Parham was unremarkable, a nice idea not executed with any depth or nuance. The lighting design by Chuma Emembolu was one of the most exciting elements of the design and effectively and subtly changed space and time with style and grace.
Overall this play had potential and was let down by some odd choices in casting and writing.
It would be interesting to see a production that wasn’t trying so hard to be shocking in the writing and with a more careful look at casting.
The Exceptional Case of Whizz and Drex was on until 7 December 2019