Fringe REVIEW: The Manifestation of Trim Tab Jim @St Nicholas’ Church

Brian Butler May 20, 2018

What if the world we live in, the universe, the galaxies, everyone we know and love are just elements of a huge computer simulation like the Matrix, and what if our lives, struggles, achievements, disappointments, disasters and even Trump are all just make-believe?

THAT’S the central premise of this science fiction rock musical written by its leading actor/singer  James Mannion. It’s an interesting idea – put forward in the real world by President Obama’s science adviser and probably widely believed.

It’s a old-established theatrical and poetical device that our life is a dream and we can steer it if we choose. That’s what amnesiac Jim is offered by a strange back projected masked master of the internet.

The weird title comes from his adopted name – a trim tab is a small rudder which when manipulated can alter the course of the largest ocean liner. Jim is convinced by the stranger and his psychiatrist that he can change the world and the rules of the game he is playing.

Through film, song and dialogue – at times conflicting and confused – Jim writes his manifesto about altering the way we live and act in small ways which eventually will lead to a new peaceful and prosperous world order.

James Mannion is better in the singing parts than the acting but he is ably counter balanced by Angelina Caskin as his shrink Dr Fuller, who may or may not be the architect of the rest of his life.

The band – Tim Ansell (drums) New Brewin (guitars and bass) Adam Onyett (keys, guitars, backing vox) and Lars Schuy (bass, guitars) keep up a pace and their style is often techno which fits the subject matter well.

I found it hard to concentrate on the massive amount of typed narrative which is on-screen while Jim is singing at times about something completely different.

The strongest songs –  I am not this man – which questions his real existence , and  Better Together – a kind of Brexit remainers clarion call work well within the confines of the storyline.

Whether ultimately Jim and the rest of us are all just part of the Matrix is finally resolved but I won’t give the end away.

The show is the second part of a trilogy about Jim – and who knows where it will take us next time ?

The Manifestation of Trim Tab Jim is at St Nicholas’ Church on May 25 and 26 and June 1.

To book tickets online, click here:

Review by Brian Butler of May 18 performance.