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Posts Tagged ‘Roxana Silbert’

This is another of those occasions when you gasp as you walk into Hampstead Theatre’s auditorium. Lizzie Clachan has built an extraordinary three-story house on the stage, the interior of a New York City brownstone. Characters even make trips up and down to two other (invisible) floors. The new play within, Alexis Zegerman’s The Fever Syndrome, is a meaty drama and uses the space well in Roxana Silbert’s production.

Professor Richard Myers is one of the founding fathers of the scientific community that gave us IVF, and a lot more. His illustrious career is about to be recognised with a lifetime achievement award and his family have gathered to celebrate with him. He’s been married three times. Dorothea is his eldest child, by his first wife. She’s the one very much in control in her marriage to Nate. They have a daughter, Lily, who has Fever Syndrome, a genetic condition. Twins Thomas, a gay artist, and Anthony, a West Coast entrepreneur, are by his second wife. He has no children by his third and current wife Megan, his carer too, as he has Parkinson’s Disease. They are joined by Thomas’ partner Philip, ex-military, ex-drug user.

In the evening before and morning of their departure for the ceremony, relationships unravel. Dorothea sees Megan as some sort of fortune hunter and is anxious to secure her daughter’s future, and pay her medical bills, setting up a trust fund with her father’s money. Philip’s marriage proposal catches Thomas unawares and threatens their hitherto stable relationship. Richard has trusted Anthony with his investments, which may not have been a wise idea, and his wife’s relationship with him looks more than a touch unhealthy. Richard seems to be haunted by Dorothea’s childhood, seeing and hearing her younger self taunt him. Megan just wants everyone to get on, and to look after Richard as best she can.

It’s a family saga in the American style we were used to seeing in the late 20th Century, with the science that Richard spent his life in woven through. It leaves a bit too much to be revealed too late, and becomes overly melodramatic for my taste. That said, it’s the sort of substantial drama we see too rarely these days and I much admired the ambition and staging.

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