Fixer – political theatre at Oval House
A tale brilliantly told, Fixer is a play set in an unnamed town in northern Nigeria, situated close to an oil pipeline, which belongs to an unnamed consortium and travels up from the Delta region in the south and out of the country. In protest or simply for more self-interested reasons, a militant group called The Boys are starting fires along the pipeline and stirring Western media interest in the consortium’s activities.
Both journalists and corporate communication consultants are despatched to the area and need a fixer – someone who can broker a relationship with The Boys. They find Chuks, a man who knows everybody, apparently fears nothing and will do anything to make a buck for his family.
The story of the oil curse and the every day hustle to make a living in a society where “monkey work, baboon chop” is hardly new. What Fixer adds, with great suspense and humour, is the hustle of the foreign correspondent and the corruption of the media.
The play is set in a world, much like our own, where the media has the power to frame our judgements. The journalist decides what the issues of interest are and identifies the good and bad guys. Though the media is capable of exposing injustice, the system can be manipulated – and is.
Reporting here is not about uncovering the truth. It is about damage limitation for the corporation, winning popularity for the rebels – who, recognising the media’s power, form a media relations committee within their ranks – and fame for the journalists. The only interest not served by the media is that of the real victims of greed and corruption: the poor.
The issues that matter to them are hardly newsworthy. In the end, they are exploited not just by big business and their leaders but also by the media, who have the power to hold their leaders to account but fail to use it.
This truly fantastic play deserves to be seen.
Fixer is showing at the Oval House until 10 July