Hampstead Theatre currently plays home to Alexis Zegerman’s play The Fever Syndrome. The first thing you notice upon entering the auditorium is the impressive dominating cross-section of the Myers four-storey ageing family townhouse based in Manhattan created by set builders Harrogate Set Production Services.
Families reuniting after a few years of separation is often fraught with deep-rooted family tensions rapidly resurfacing. The Myers family have gathered together in preparation to support their sick father Professor Richard Myers (Robert Lindsay) who was the leading pioneer in IVF treatments and research to an award ceremony to which he has been invited. Now in the later stages of Parkinson’s’ Disease, this could very possibly be the last time the family ever get together and see their father alive.
The rivalry and disdain between Dot (Lisa Dillon) and her twin half-brothers Thomas (Alex Waldmann) and Anthony (Sam Marks) never wains throughout the performance. Dot’s healthy distrust of Anthony never falters as she uncovers the truth about where her father’s generous income has disappeared to. Although Thomas attempts to be amicable with both siblings tensions simmer away under the surface.
The ghost of a younger Dot is played by (Charlotte Pourret Wythe). Gliding from room to room while all the time she haunts the subconscious of her father. We are left questioning Myers’s regrets and any feelings of despair in his lack of attentiveness towards her when she had come to visit. There is one superbly performed heart-stopping scene between them after the interval where I felt myself jump.
I thought that the imagery of stripped wallpaper adorning the walls in the former children’s bedrooms juxtaposed against the relationships between the three siblings and their father. Where each layer is partly removed offering the audience an insight into each of their lives growing up and the “normal” everyday lives that they now live. Never completely exposing the whole truth.
Alexis Zegerman’s complex and rich text combines a vast array of family tensions, emotionally charged confrontations and two debilitating physical illnesses. There are times throughout the play where I felt like I was personally caught up in their “battlefield” with attacks launched on all sides as the family feud against each other while trying to co-exist under the same roof for a short amount of time. Zegerman has superbly created a play where art is argumentatively reflecting life in this “warts n all” production.
The Fever Syndrome is playing from March 24th-April 30th. Please check out the link below for booking enquiries and for further information about Hampstead Theatre’s future productions.