The Fever Syndrome by Alexis Zegerman. Hampstead Theatre, Swiss Cottage, London NW3 to 30 April 2022. 4****. William Russell

Solidly crafted with a good story to tell The Fever Syndrome by Alexis Zegerman is one of those plays – actually her first – American dramatists love to write in which a dysfunctional family gathers for a reunion at which everything goes disastrously wrong. Such plays are a feature of drama by writers from pretty well every country – what else does Chekhov write about? – but there is a very specific American brand and this falls into that category. It does, however, offer a series of terrific roles which the cast seize upon, notably Robert Lindsay as the patriarch, Dr Richard Myers, a UVF pioneer, who is about to receive a lifetime achievement award. His daughter Dot (Lisa Dillon) with husband and their daughter, his twin sons, one with his partner, descend on his home in Manhattan where he lives with his third wife Megan (Alexandra Gilbreath) intent on settling things for the future. Myers is suffering from Parkinson’s and Dot wants him put into a home and to know that her father’s money – Myers is rich – will in part come her way so she can care for her daughter which is afflicted with the disease of the title. As for Myers, outraged at the effect of time and his illness, bursts out into temper tantrums at their awful behaviour and the way his life has been curtailed. Lisa Dillon matches him for sheer awfulness. Dot is married to a scientist in disgrace because he plagiarised a student’s work and the money matters very much to her. His two sons are just as mixed up,the gay one having brought his partner along to meet the family, the entrepreneur in California turns out to be dealing in some kind of Brit coin and to have charge of Myers’ money. One really is not all that interested in the grandchild, although clearly her illness is also a symbol for the condition of the family, but the rows certainly keep one on the edge of one’s seat and there is a lavish set to admire which seems to show every room in the house.
The one sensible person present turns out to be the gay son’s partner who wants them to get married and have a family and when his partner throws a fit at the very idea decides enough is enough and departs. There is an awful lot going on from just who bought the gay painter son’s awful art works to whether his brother has the hots for his step mother number two and all the stuff about IVF and the Syndrome and who gets what in the will, all of which calls for bravura performances and certainly the cast deliver those with Lindsay and Dillon excelling when it comes to chewing the scenery.

Richard Myers; Robert Lindsay.
Megan Myers: Alexandra Gilbreath.
Dorothea Myers; Lisa Dillon.
Nathaniel Cooper: Bo Poraj.
Lily Cooper: Nancy Allsop.
Thomas Myers: Alex Waldmann.
Phillip Tennyson:Jake Fairbrother.
Anthony Myers: Sam Marks.
Young Dot: Charlotte Pourret Wythe.

Director: Roxana Silbert.
Designer: Lizzie Clachan.
Lighting Designer; Matt Haskins.
Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim.
Movement Director: Wayne Parsons.
Voice Director: Stephen Kemble.
Production Photographs: Ellie Kurttz.

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection