The Fever was written and first performed by Wallace Shawn. (probably most recognized for his role as Vizzini in The Princess Bride; you know, the gnomey guy who said “inconceivable” all the time) He first performed the monologue in the Manhattan living rooms of his affluent friends as a challenge to their (and his) comfortable lives in the face of the destitution that engulfs so much of humanity. He then staged it off-Broadway (it won an Obie for Best Play) where it was greeted with extremely mixed response.
Now I know it’s hackneyed to say a play’s “not for everyone”, but I dare say there are very, very few theater-goers on the right of the political spectrum who would walk away from The Fever with anything but disgust for its Marxist message. And the play should be even more problematic for those of us on the left. (you’ll have to come and see why).
I’m 62. (yeah, pretty old for a Fringe performer) Got a comfortable life in the ‘burbs; will soon tap into a nice pension and Social Security. I could retire if I wanted and just kick back for my remaining years. Like Wally Shawn’s alter-ego in The Fever, I am facing (and currently enjoying) a life of ease and comfort that is “inconceivable” to the vast majority of humanity.
The Fever makes me uncomfortable. Damn uncomfortable.
So if you’re looking for a theatrical evening of escape from your cares and woes, look elsewhere. If you’re up for a challenge that could shake the foundation of your beliefs, give a look.
— Guest writer Pat O’Brien, is a veteran TV and film actor who, last year, performed the Fringe hit Underneath the Lintel.
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