Being family to one of the most signifiant IVF innovators appears to come with great responsibility. Professor Richard Myers is about to receive the lifetime achievement award for all of his labour over his expansive career, though while gathering the family to celebrate, intense dramas unfold and cause a stir amongst the household at every turn.
Now with Parkinsons and being looked after by his third wife, Megan (Alexandra Gilbreath), Professor Myers, who is played by the well accomplished Robert Lindsay, has a varied reception with all three of his children, in addition to their respective partners and his granddaughter in attendance. Feisty debate often spirals out of control when volatile personalities clash over every topic encountered, the majority being with regards to their father: from his care to his wealth and legacy going forwards.
The set is absolutely gorgeous- wholly distinctive and displaying fine artistry from designer Lizzie Clachan. It allows for a creative exploration of the characters, as the audience are able to follow the fluidity of them moving between rooms, and therefore get in insight into their behaviours in different settings simultaneously, such as openly around the dinner table, then private discussions in separate spaces without breaking for set changes, which is impressively conducted. While presenting in this dynamic and interesting way does appear that each individual narrative can be told, the complete plot doesn't stray far from typical dysfunctional family plays, and is a long piece, so loses a little traction as it progresses. However, for the most part, The Fever Syndrome comes across as complex, detailed and thoughtfully executed.
Both scientists themselves, married couple Dot Myers and Nate (Lisa Dillon and Bo Poraj respectively) slot into the myriad of brilliant acting that comes from this cast. Their daughter Lily- played by Nancy Allsop- has this fever syndrome, and initially it seems as if there is some bringing of awareness of the condition: Lily is loved dearly by them both, but at points it feels as if she is treated as a burden of the family, so can evoke mixed readings on the subject. Anthony Myers (Sam Marks) and his partner Philip (Jake Fairbrother) are also present for the occasion, as well as the third sibling, Thomas (Alex Waldmann). Each person has their own opinions and tribulations with regards to having children, which ties in nicely with their father's success in helping to birth so many through his occupation.
It can be seen why the appearance of Young Dot (Charlotte Pourret Wythe) is introduced, but overall it doesn't come across as particularly impactful. To conclude, Professor Myers brings his turbulent family together for a beautiful ending to resolve the constant conflict. Arguably, there is still some unfinished elements where there have not been closure, therefore leaving the subsequent lives and future decisions of the siblings up to interpretation.
The Fever Syndrome, written by Alexis Zegerman and directed by Roxana Silbert is a sophisticated piece of theatre, exhibited in a visionary way. Despite only its stage appearance being particularly stand out, as a whole, it can open conversation with regards to genetics, and ethics surrounding controlling these, which is a fascinating debate.