Follow The Leader
It's tricky talking about US based 600 Highwaymen’s “The Fever,” for you don't want to give anything away which might dilute or undermine the experience. Trying to avoid spoiler alerts, what you can say is that you enter a space that resembles a community hall, a line of chairs placed neatly around each side of a large, red, rectangular floor. The idea of community is crucial here. What follows looks, at times, like a cross between a theatrical Reiki session and a mirroring theatre game, some elaborate version of follow the leader. And it's all a little wonderful. Though some might wonder if it's all a little worrying. Indeed, perhaps the most impressive and powerful aspect of “The Fever” is that while it is a pleasurable and subversive experience, it might not fully disclose its secrets until after you’ve left the theatre.
Written and directed by Abigail Browde and Michael Silverstone, co-created with Emil Abramyan, Eric Southern, and Brandon Wolcott, performed with Caroline Kittredge Faustine, Nile Harris, and Tommer Petertson, “The Fever” plays like a meta-theatrical, abstracted Our Town for the twenty-first century. A small village and its inhabitants become a space for an interrogation as profound as it is subtle. One in which you, the audience, being there matters. Eric Southern’s lighting is often cleverly evocative, even if Brandon Wolcott’s generally competent sound design, including some impressive original compositions by Emil Abramyan and Wolcott, can drown out voices at some crucial moments. Or is that perhaps the point? If so, it could have been handled better.
You want to say so much more, but “The Fever’s” theatrical simplicity forbids it. As does its subtle and smart interrogations which might not be all you think they are even if they're everything you hoped for. One thing’s for sure, “The Fever” is a smart and subversively enchanting production, one that keeps on giving long after you’ve left the auditorium. Just don’t forget to take your programme when you leave. For 6 + to 106 +.
“The Fever” by 600 Highwaymen, runs at The Samuel Beckett Theatre as part of Dublin Theatre Festival 2018 until October 14.
For more information, visit The Samuel Beckett Theatre or Dublin Theatre Festival 2018