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Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)

By Chicagotheaterbeat @chitheaterbeat

     

Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)

The Fever Chart
 

Written by Naomi Wallace
Directed by Steven Fedoruk, Sarah Moeller
Greenhouse Thtr Ctr, 2257 N. Lincoln (map)
thru Oct 30  |  tickets: $28  |  more info

Check for half-price tickets 
  
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An appreciation of a Naomi Wallace season

     

Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)

  

Eclipse Theatre presents

  

The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East

Now that Eclipse Theatre has ended its 2010-2011 season of seminal works by the very committed playwright Naomi Wallace, it’s easy to see why they embarked on this exploration: As usual their whole is greater than its three parts. Like its predecessors, A Flea Spare (our review ★★★) and The Trestle at Pope Lick Creek (review ★★★★), The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East looks at a big subject from a small—

Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)
as in human—perspective.

Of course, that’s the only way in which plagues, depressions and, in this case, religious wars are experienced—by victims, whether innocent or accidental, and enemies, whether willing or corrupted.

The Greenhouse Theatre Center staging, by Steven Fedoruk and Sarah Moeller, paints a cumulative portrait of Arabs and Israelis as friends and lovers, children and parents, neighbors and rivals. Wallace conjures up a dream-like state: Opposites are transformed into each other until crime and punishment, as well as guilt and innocence, become impossible to separate.

So an Israeli soldier and a Palestinian mother are linked in the afterlife as inextricably as they were in the real one. Likewise an Israeli nurse’s aide and an Arab father reveal an interdependence that defies politics in order to affirm life (and make sense of death).

Finally, Wallace moves her focus from the Mediterranean shore to the flash points of Iraq and Afghanistan. In the former a pigeon collector remembers a dead friend from the Gulf War who surrendered—into oblivion. Likewise a tragic mistake haunts the fourth one-act: Teenage Afghan sisters and a feckless American soldier are caught up in calamity by self-fulfilling scenarios fueled by fear, distrust and ignorance.

Though his part transcends both life and death, Arthur Soria brings vibrant intensity to the part of the Israeli soldier who owes more than he realizes to more people than he knows. Likewise, Edgar Sanchez as the Iraqi bird fancier paints a vivid picture of how the “fog of war” is as much ethical as psychological. Finally, Mouzam Makkar, playing the Israeli nurse’s aide whose death benefits a strategic stranger, manages to play both Wallace’s moment and her moral with equal conviction.

Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)
Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)
Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)

In all three Eclipse offerings a thread runs true: The characters are better than their conditions, and merit matters even in martyrdom. Politics, Wallace argues, invariably serves the interests of various offstage forces, powerful cowards who never witness the damage from which they prosper—unless they’re trapped by the quarantine of a plague, spectators to a teenage suicide, or witnesses to the murder of innocents on the other side of the world.

Sympathy for the underdog, compassion for the downtrodden—these are not sentimental indulgences with Wallace. Like the factory workers in “Slaughter City,” these Mideast survivors and ghosts, London prisoners, and Ozark drifters are both the stuff of dreams and indictments of our once and future inequities.

  

Rating: ★★★½

  

Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)
Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)
Review: The Fever Chart: Four Visions of the Middle East (Eclipse Theatre)

The Fever Chart continues through October 30th at Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln (map), with performances Thursdays-Saturdays at 7:30pm, and Sundays at 2:30pm. Tickets are $28, and can be purchased by phone (773-404-7336) or online at Tix.com. More information at EclipseTheatre.com. (Running time: 2 hours, which includes one intermission)

All photos by Scott Cooper


     

artists

Naomi Wallace The Fever Chart, Eclipse Theatre 2
CAST: Jennifer Baker (Alya), Lauren Delfs (Meena), Mouzam Makkar (Tanya), Vincent Mahler (Mourid / Shlomo), Edgar Sanchez (Ali), Amira Sabbagh (Um Hisham), Matthew Scott (Sami), Arthur Soria (Yuval), Alex Polcyn

BEHIND THE SCENES: Steven Fedoruk* and Sarah Moeller* (co-directors), Chris Corwin* and Nathaniel Swift (co-lighting), Mike Winkelman (sets), JP Pierson* (Dramaturg), Kristen Ahern (costumes), Lindsay Bartlett (dialect coach), Sorin Brouwers (sound), Amelia Lerch (props), Kristin Idaszak (dramaturg), Lindsey Miller (stage manager), Kevin Scott* (producer), Heather Timmerman (asst. stage manager), Scott Cooper (photos)

* denotes Eclipse ensemble member


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