The Fever

Toronto's Summerworks 2012 Festival Picks
By Guest Reviewer: Jackie Mack

This summer’s attendance at Summerworks, unlike previous years where I was watching colleagues work, was dedicated entirely to reviewing what was seen. Thus rather than arranging my picks in an order of attendance, the following reviews have been arranged in my ascending order of preference. 

The Fever by Wallace Shawn. Directed by Rose Plotek

When choosing pieces to see, I was delighted to discover that one of my favourite plays, The Fever, written by Wallace Shawn, was on the roster.  A one-woman piece about a privileged American/European who encounters the world’s inequalities, and does nothing to change it, was, as I remember it, entirely moving. I was careful, when inviting a friend to join me, to mention that I had no foreknowledge of this particular production, but that the script was so rich, it would be worth a trip to the theatre.  While the production was disappointing, this still holds true.  The play is beautifully crafted, artistically written and contains a universal and timely theme.

Sadly, this particular production left my friend and I feeling like we had been preached at for an hour. It is important to note that Julie Fox’s set, a white carpet on black floor with one wood chair and an overhead fan of a similar wood, was perfectly symbolic of the ideas and setting of the written script. Oddly, there was a buzzing sound audible throughout the performance and this gave a nice atmospheric feel to the set. In addition the lights (Rebecca Picherack), which gradually moved their focus from the audience to light the sole actress (Katie Swift) from the front, top, and back, created magnificent images of an interrogation, an electric chair and creeping animals.

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