The Fever – Samuel Beckett Theatre – Dublin Theatre Festival – Review
At the end of the performance of The Fever, as the applause was starting to die, one of the cast members and creators, Michael Silverstone, stood up and thanked the audience. He said that if we enjoyed the show we should recommend it to our family and friends, but not to tell them what it is about. They like to keep an air of mystery about their work and their audience on edge. To comply with their wishes does make reviewing the piece a little difficult but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind us discussing it in a general sense! There is no major twist to the production or any big reveal, it is basically a simple story told through text and movement with a lot of audience participation.
The seats for the production are arranged around the outside of the theatre, leaving a rectangular space in the middle. In the early stages they ask specific people to join them on stage, but once people realise that they are not demanding anything too daunting from them, the casts only asks if someone would like to join them on stage and there was always a willing soul. You can hide and just watch it from a distance if you like but it is more fun to be involved.
This is a work by 600 HIGHWAYMEN, who are New York based theatre artists Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone. They have 8 original productions and have been making theatre since 2009. They have toured extensively and won the Obie Award in 2014 and Zurich’s ZKB Patronage Prize in 2015.
There is impressive use of music and light throughout with some moments where the music swells and engulfs the scene. Specific individuals or the audience as a whole are encouraged to perform at various stages in the production. They are led by the cast and sometimes left to perform the movements on their own. As a rule, dancers are a very particularly looking group of individuals and to see average people performing on stage does add a certain novelty. The audience connect to the production in a particularly way and do not hide in the dark as with most productions. The cynics amongst us will compare it to a retreat or a born again religious happening, but there is a strange naivety generated and it does have a gentle sweetness that will leave you with a warm glow.
Written and Directed by Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone
Co-created by Emil Abramyan, Eric Southern and Brandon Wolcott