The Fever Chart @ The Lakeside Arts Theatre

It was difficult to think what to write about ‘The Fever Chart’; it wasn’t enjoyable, but then again, it wasn’t supposed to be. It was a piece comprising of three separate plays that that made us reflect on our assumptions of the Middle East. There are always conflicts and Wars in the Middle East; you watch the news as I do. But what else do we know? I’m the first to admit I have only ever studied British and European Politics.

The set was very clever in its simplicity. It was a grey ruin of a building; this is significant – it made it ambiguous; it could have been anywhere, just as any one of the characters could have been any one of the people who were victims of the conflict in the Gaza Strip.

There were birds in the backdrop too – and they seemed crop up in all three plays – almost serving to connect these three separate scenarios, along with themes of love, death, and suffering. The only props were a mop a chair, and a fluorescent light to create the atmosphere required for the Doctor’s surgery. For a high profile play which is currently touring all over the country, you would have thought that they could have made better use of the budget – but it wasn’t important. The emphasis on the characters was. Both Naomi Wallace, the playwright, and the Directors Kate Posner and Marcus Romer, wanted us to connect with the characters as people and in doing so, they were able to tell us far more than statistics on the news ever could.

There were only three actors, who played seven different parts; characters of all different ages and backgrounds. They were convincing and really spoke to the audience. The last play was entirely soliloquy, just us and him, and from the combination of expert directing and acting, we got to know him – his suffering was our suffering. It certainly was an politically and emotionally charged play for us as well as the characters.

Even lighting was not excessive, it was simply there to set the atmosphere – orange light in the backdrop would melt into blue to create night – it was amazing. Usually, you just expect the houselights to do all the work, but this was something unique and made us feel like we were there.

What added to this was the deafening gunfire which this was replaced by a fusion of British and Asian music; perhaps I’m going over the top, but I think it made it applicable to us. We had to listen because it was something we recognised. ‘Every breath you take’ made us listen, it is an English song after all; we had to listen because it involved us.

Deaths portrayed on the news about British Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are measured by the number of casualties. What about the people? Every one of those numbers are people, as one of the characters noted, 5000 children’s deaths when counted out seem like an awful lot. This play was very effective in showing that every statistic out there is a person and we can’t continue to ignore it. It wanted us to reflect on our own ignorance. I’m not pretending I now know everything about Middle Eastern Politics after seeing this play, but it has made me think I ought to stop pretending that I don’t need to know and that it doesn’t affect us, because it does.

By Amy Pearson

ArtsArts Reviews
2 Comments on this post.
  • Debs Storey (Lakeside Arts Centre)
    10 December 2009 at 15:33
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    Thank you for this fantastic review Amy.

  • James Lewis
    11 December 2009 at 10:36
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    An awesome play with three brilliant performances. Hope it gets a run elsewhere.

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