Review: The Fever Syndrome, Hampstead Theatre

An excellent design and a great cast can’t help cure the ills of The Fever Syndrome at the Hampstead Theatre

“We are all slaves to our genes. Worse than that; we are all slaves to our parents’ genes”

Lizzie Clachlan’s set design for The Fever Syndrome is inspired. A cutaway of a New York brownstone reveals multiple rooms framed like a doll’s house, the perfect setting for the multi-layered conversations of an extended family gathering for a special occasion. It dominates the stage of the Hampstead Theatre perfectly.

And the cast of Roxana Silbert’s production is a great one. Robert Lindsay riding high from Anything Goes, one of my all-time faves Alexandra Gilbreath, a rare stage return for Lisa Dillon plus the dishy Bo Poraj among others. It’s just a shame that Alexis Zegerman’s play doesn’t quite match up to its cast and creatives.

It’s not abundantly clear why but Zegerman has had a go at her version of a Great American play, a sprawling family epic that glances on a wealth of huge, weighty topics but ultimately finds that it has nothing particularly profound to say about any of them, so crowded is the canvas. And at well over two hours and half hours, that’s a lot of canvas to clutter up this way.

Ideas about whether you can be a c*nt if you’re a genius, what that does to a family, and notions of inheritance in all senses of the word are floated as the Myers come together to see ailing patriarch Richard receive a lifetime achievement award and lay claim to his estate. But as scenes drag on at shouty length, you’re just left longing for any kind of resolution.

Running time: 2 hours 45 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Ellie Kurttz
The Fever Syndrome is booking at Hampstead Theatre until 30th April

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