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The Real Thing

Deceased Coca-Cola CEO Roberto Goizueta's career included both phenomenal success (Diet Coke) and monumental disaster (new Coke). Rogelio Martinez's play Fizz, a fictionalized look at the latter blunder, never achieves either distinction, but like its protagonist, is notable for its ambitious determination.

Martinez's broad comedy looks at not only what happens when the Cuban-born Roberto (a winning Bryant Mason) tampers with one of America's most iconographic brands, but also at how people recover from their mistakes. As Roberto attempts to fathom why his new product inspires protest, his love interest, homicidal housewife Trixie (captivatingly played by Keira Naughton), strives to escape her unhappy marriage. Her name invokes another American pop culture staple, television's The Honeymooners—the kind of multi-layering found throughout Martinez's script.

Unfortunately, director Sam Gold often mistakes frantic pacing for effervescence as Martinez stretches Fizz to the breaking point. Roberto has a fling with another symbol of American culture, a Rockette (a shrill Cheryl Lynn Bowers), and develops a cocaine addiction—an amusing nod to an original ingredient in the soda. But by the end, ambition notwithstanding, Fizz has gone flat.


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