In his monologue The Fever, Wallace Shawn reaches out to his own peers with his idea that their very existence is a bloody, tortuous burden on the poor and powerless of the world. For the Anywhere Theatre Festival, Zachary Boulton presents a dramatic performance of Shawn’s narrative to an intimate gathering inside the West End Market Warehouse.
Our nameless narrator wakes feverish in a hotel room in a foreign country that is wrecked by civil war. In a Kafkaesque meltdown he finds himself on the bathroom floor, vomiting and hallucinating, surrounded by crawling water bugs. He recounts to us a story of a party in a fine restaurant while out in the streets people suffered from, what he comes to see as, the violent fall out of his privileged existence.
Through the course of his sometimes humorous ponderings, our narrator wavers like an out-of-control car as he tries to understand his life and what must be done about the scourge of capitalism and greed. On the other hand he also seems to be trying to talk himself back to the comfort of the status quo after all we can’t give away all our money can we, not when we worked so hard for it and we do so enjoy the Opera.
With such great lines like the judgement of a revolution by its tasty ice cream, Shawn’s writing is charming with a sinister undertone that demonstrates how we, those born to luck, talk ourselves out of blame but, more than that, we turn the actual torture of other human beings into our own personal intellectual dilemma so that we too can feel as if we have suffered.
Boulton, a versatile performer with impressive strength was captivating and passionate for the marathon seventy minute introspection. He literally sweated the words as he spoke them, the stark lights beating on him like he was being interrogated. In fact, the overall feeling of this version of The Fever was that of tense interrogation – were we his peers or his jury? If so, it is an interesting departure from Shawn’s original performances to his friends in their New York Penthouses – you can imagine him cradling a glass of expensive champagne while he candidly shares his moral musings to his ridiculously wealthy friends. Is Anatoly Frusin (Director) trying to turn the spot-light back onto Shawn and call out his lack of action after decades of such eloquent concern?
The Fever by Wallace Shawn is a catalyst for great conversation – you will either sympathise with this character or despise him - as we continue to indulge in a society that talks at length from the comfort of our lounges about what might be done. This great piece of provocative theatre finishes with shows this weekend (May 15-17) and tickets can be purchased online at www.anywheretheatrefest.com
Someone needs to see all the things.