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The Fever – A Play That’s Antidote to Holiday Madness?

Do our holidays revolve around more than scrambling for the best deal on the latest must-have device or the most unusual gift? For that matter, do our lives? Where does all this material comfort come from and what webs connect us to the unseen people whose labor has produced it?

Cover of "The Fever (Evergreen original)&...
Cover of The Fever (Evergreen original)

American Theatre magazine wrote about “The Fever,” “Recalling the onset of illness in a Third World hotel bathroom, the narrator tells about his privileged childhood, his elitist adulthood, and his gradual realization that he must share responsibility for his society’s immorality… You can react to Shawn’s play in one of two ways — you can get angry, or you can reevaluate your life.”

David Shapiro will once again bring the central character to life in this weekend’s Trap Door production. And how good is that? Wallace Shawn, the play’s author who is also known for his film “My Dinner with Andre” and his role in “Clueless,” was so taken with Shapiro’s work in “The Fever” that he wrote, “I wish I could have done it like David did, but I didn’t know how.”

And here’s what Chicago Reader critic Justin Hayford wrote of “The Fever:” “It’s a wickedly difficult monologue in which a man of privileged upbringing stands onstage for an hour and a half, explaining how he’s confronted the atrocities perpetrated in ‘poor countries’ but remaining unable to process the experience. The difficulty of this play lies in its potential to degenerate into an indulgent white-liberal guilt trip. Luckily Shapiro… appreciates the complexity of Shawn’s text, the subtlety of its emotional landscape, and perhaps most important its abundance of ironic humor.”

In keeping with the themes of the play, the performances on Friday and Saturday evening will benefit Revolution Books, an independent bookstore in Wicker Park that describes itself as “the place people can come from all over to find the books and engagement about why the world is the way it is and how it can be radically different.” Tickets are $20 and are available on their website or at the door.

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