The Fever

Overview


Winner of the 1991 Obie Award for Best Play and soon to be a film starring Vanessa Redgrave, The Fever has been called “a starkly written, harrowing journey into [the] dark night of the soul that is as searing on the page as it is on the stage” (Booklist). While visiting a poverty-stricken country far from home, the unnamed narrator of The Fever is forced to witness the political persecution occurring just beyond a hotel window. In examining a life of comfort and relative privilege, the narrator reveals, “I ...
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Overview


Winner of the 1991 Obie Award for Best Play and soon to be a film starring Vanessa Redgrave, The Fever has been called “a starkly written, harrowing journey into [the] dark night of the soul that is as searing on the page as it is on the stage” (Booklist). While visiting a poverty-stricken country far from home, the unnamed narrator of The Fever is forced to witness the political persecution occurring just beyond a hotel window. In examining a life of comfort and relative privilege, the narrator reveals, “I always say to my friends, We should be glad to be alive. We should celebrate life. We should understand that life is wonderful.” But how does one celebrate life—take pleasure in beauty, for instance—while slowly becoming aware that the poverty and oppression of other human beings are a direct consequence of one’s own pleasurable life? In a coruscating monologue, The Fever is most of all an eloquent meditation on whether it is possible to live in an ethical relationship with others in the world.

Celebrated actor and playwright, Wallace Shawn, also the author of My Dinner With Andre, offers a powerful work of the imagination in which the narrator's visit to a beautiful country is marred by political struggles which force him to review the presumptions of a "liberal" existence in the face of harsh, murderous reality. This eventually leads him to question his own existence.

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Editorial Reviews

NY Times
THE FEVER is a work that asks, in a highly original way: Is it possible, or even right, for a sensitive person to be happy in today's world?
NY Newsday
...mesmerizingly theatrical—a profoundly engaging journey through the awakening of a pampered man's conscience.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The narrator is having a mid-life crisis. He's shaking and vomiting in a hotel in a strange Third World country, contemplating the plight of the poor and the oppressed around the globe. As his annoying interior monologue unfolds, he becomes increasingly nauseated by the ignorance and complacency of his own moneyed existence, although he's not quite ready to give up the perks of privilege--luxury hotels, fine restaurants, glamorous theater events--in order that others might be able to feed their hungry children. The speaker wonders how he and his friends could be ``decorating their lives and their world as if they were having a permanent party'' while citizens in countries under totalitarian rule are being tortured and killed, yet he is unable to shake the contempt he feels for the impoverished. At the end of this pointless book, Shawn states that the considerable efforts of concerned parents, artists and politicians ``do not change the life of the poor,'' a conclusion that the narrator conveniently employs to alleviate his guilt long enough to allow him a decent night's rest. This work was the basis for a dramatic monologue performed in New York City. Shawn is a playwright and actor. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Shawn is one of those actors we always recognize but rarely can name. He has appeared in many fine films, including Woody Allen's Manhattan and Radio Days , but is probably best remembered as the balding, squeaky-voiced intellectual in My Dinner with Andre . Shawn is also a playwright who has achieved some success off-Broadway. The Fever , which he is now performing, is a dramatic monolog in which a nameless and genderless voice attempts to deal with a guilt resulting from an anachronistic form of liberalism. The voice cannot bear being both liberal and a member of the so-called oppressing class. The result is a thin, shallow whine that might work well performed by an actor of Shawn's accomplishments but which fails in written form because the reader has read it all before.-- Vincent D. Balitas, Allentown Coll., Center Valley, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822203988
  • Publisher: Dramatists Play Service, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 6/1/1992
  • Pages: 42

Meet the Author

Wallace Shawn
Wallace Shawn

Wallace Shawn is the author of "Our Late Night" (OBIE Award Best Play) "Marie and Bruce", "Aunt Dan and Lemon", "The Designated Mourner", "The Fever", among other plays, and the screenplay for "My Dinner with André". He has translated and adapted "The Threepenny Opera", "The Master Builder" and "The Mandrake".

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