In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) is a type of Assistive Reproductive Technology (ART) used specifically for couples whereby the chances of natural reproduction are small. A procedure pioneered in the late 70s, IVF has gone on to support many hopeful couples become parents, the notion now that IVF is a possible option for families a cultural phenomenon. American Biochemist and Geneticist Dr Richard Myers has been integral to the treatment’s innovation, his ‘Human Genome Project’ giving the world a better understanding of the structure, organisation and function of the complete set of human genes. Receiving its world premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, Alexis Zegerman’s The Fever Syndrome is an appreciation of how far we’ve come scientifically, and how discovery continues to drive the everyday.
The lead up to Dr Richard Myers’ acceptance of a special recognition award, the family gather to celebrate. Reunions fascinating events that have the potential to cultivate incredible moments of nostalgia yet draw up uncomfortable unresolved tensions, the Myers family instantly drawn together by their unrivalled knowledge and skillset within the scientific realm, how they communicate with one another, dynamic – conversations inspired and ones where you feel as if they could possibly stumble across their next find, purely by their everyday conversations. Zegerman’s scientifically dense script a joy to listen to, the evening an entertaining scientific lecture inspiring all to think more about the mechanisms of life both on an internal and external level – nature/nurture.
Lizzie Clachan’s elaborate staging places the dining room centre stage, a grand circular wooden table the show’s powerful focal point and reminder of connection, the multi-story homely backdrop showcasing the scope and layout of the Myers’ unmaintained, slowly dwindling residence. Robert Lindsay’s strong willed Professor Myers embodies a comical cynicism, a confidence that has helped to carve out his career. A man also dealing with his own neurological concerns, he’s the evening’s defiant anchor, the show’s paternal figure. Alexandra Gilbreath’s Megan adorns the space with her loquacious nature, Professor Myers’ partner and carer, she ensures there’s never a dull moment. Lisa Dillon’s Dot and Bo Poraj’s Nate an academic married couple concerned with the need to ensure their daughter’s rare health condition is managed in the best way possible, a condition that perplexes both the family and medical profession Nancy Allsop’s Lily is a cool, calm and collected teen driven quietly by her own need for independence, considering the circumstances. Alex Waldmann’s Thomas and Jake Fairbrother’s Philip a young, loving couple trying to figure out their next steps and what’s best for them. Sam Marks’ charismatic Anthony Myers is the life and soul of the party, one also not afraid to take risks business-wise and Charlotte Pourret Wythe’s Young Dot is a mysterious presence, one that takes us all way from the immediate drama of the reunion to a more psychological/spiritual realm.
Roxana Silbert directs an entertaining intergenerational family drama observing the inspirations of scientific discovery!
Review written by Lucy Basaba.
The Fever Syndrome is currently showing at the Hampstead Theatre until Saturday 30th April 2022. To find out more about the production, visit here…