It’s a raining Saturday night as Britain settles down to watch The X-Factor. Yet behind the Guadi-inspired bar area of York’s Theatre Royal, three individuals are about to perform Naomi Wallace’s three-part political play, The Fever Chart, a production that the New York Times and The Guardian have praised.
Wallace calls the sections of her play “Visions”, the first being an encounter in a Gazan zoo between a soldier, a grieving mother and a Russian Jewish architect; the second being an intense psychological drama between a doctor, a hunky but daft Israeli cleaner and a Palestinian patient with a secret; the final Vision of The Fever Chart is a moving monologue set in the year 2000 that illuminates Iraqi life and in parts becomes a charred black comedy.
One major strength of this play is its unusual enrolment of supernatural elements. Each scene embarks upon its own dramatic and sometimes warming exploration of the afterlife and its consequences.
Lisa Came, who plays Um Hisham the mother in Vision One and Tanya the doctor in Vision Two, both directed by Katie Posner, demonstrates a masterful vocal ability as she skilfully performs two binary female identities. Lisa Came touches upon what at first appears to be a feminist edge of Wallace’s, but this soon unsheafs itself to reveal a sharp anti-occidental blade.
Raad Rawl, who plays the architect in Vision One and the patient in Vision Two, gives the most convincing performances of the night, at one point gushing with all the irreverence and barking madness of a Latin teacher, then later on bursting embarrassingly into bizarre and mournful renditions of Kanye West and The Police.
The actor who tops tonight’s chart however is Daniel Rabin, who after a slightly over-acted start, carries the production with vigour into many of its physical and philosophical territories. Daniel Rabin’s second character, the love-sick cleaner with an uncategorised mind, makes audiences chuckle while following his movements intently. In Vision Three, directed by Marcus Romer, Daniel Rabin re-showcases the sexiness and silliness from his previous characters, and then builds upon this to deliver an emotional punch.
The Fever Chart is at its best when mustering a post-structuralist flavour, working self-consciously alongside Frost and even Plato. Instead of reiterating a widely documented struggle of unrest in the Middle-East, The Fever Chart discovers new paths of understanding, through fragmentation, through sexuality, and most unsually – through pigeons.