Reviewed Performance 3/6/2015
Reviewed by Mary L. Clark, Associate Critic for John Garcia's THE COLUMN
The Fever is an hour long monologue meant to rouse audiences’ feelings and opinion on the conditions and plight of the world’s poverty-stricken. If the intent was to raise our consciousness level and commitment, the temperature didn’t reach much above 98.6.
Written by Wallace Shawn, an actor, comedian, playwright and essayist of My Dinner with Andre and Princess Bride recognition, he first performed the experimental theatre piece to Manhattan socialites in their living rooms in the hopes of challenging their affluent lives in the midst of so much world inhumanity. Later, in theatres, Shawn kept the piece unconventional by mingling with the audiences beforehand and playing on an empty stage. The Fever won an Obie for Best Play against vastly mixed reviews.
Using only a well-upholstered and plush leather armchair and ottoman as set, Patrick O’Brien portrays a wealthy man who has been leveled by a fever, and in a series of exposition and feverish flashbacks, tells of his travels to an economically exploited tourist industry country and his encouragement to visit a war-torn neighbor country to experience the truth there by one who recalls only its beauty. The man goes and his comfortable elitist lifestyle is eminently questioned. Upon a second return, a fever overtakes him, and the monologue takes the audience with him through nightmare hallucinations and enlightenment before the fever breaks.
Shawn’s piece rolls in and out, around and back, in the man’s journey and existential crisis, with Marxist messages of the value of things and people swirling in the man’s fevered head. As written, it is hard to keep up with the ranting, as if Shawn’s message is too elitist and worldly for mere commoners to comprehend. As performed, it is even more difficult. O’Brien races through the words, none held long enough to set in the mind before struggling to catch up to the next. It was a full 15 minutes before the actual story’s plot became fully understood. Re-direction is sorely needed as O’Brien stayed mainly in his armchair, sauntering out of it only on occasion, hands clasped behind him as a lecturer would, while the story’s visions are so horrific and action-filled. There is no deep interaction with the audience, the very people the newly enlightened man is supposedly attempting to reach.
Of course, the audience gets the message. All men struggle in their personal comforts while others in the world suffer. O’Brien’s note in the program says, “If you’re up for a challenge that could shake the foundation of your beliefs, give a look”. Unfortunately, both Shawn’s The Fever and O’Brien performance remains not shaken but only stirred.
The Fever’s last performance was Sunday, March 8th at 2:00 pm
OUT OF THE LOOP FRINGE FESTIVAL
Addison Conference & Theatre Centre
15650 Addison Road
Addison, TX 75001
The Festival runs from March 6th through March 15th, weekends and weekdays.
All productions have only two-four performances and some theatre space seating is limited
Some productions contain adult language, sexual situations, and/or violence. Please consult the box office for content information regarding a particular production
Festival Passes are $65.00 for one admission to all 20 productions. Individual tickets are $10.00. WaterTower Theatre subscribers receive $10.00 off each festival pass.
For information on and to purchase festival passes and tickets, visit www.watertowertheatre.org or call their box office at 972-450-6232. In person reservations are also welcome, but seating is limited for most performances.