Review by Siofra Nic Liam
600 Highwaymen bring their latest piece, The Fever, to Dublin Theatre Festival. This piece of work is experimental and relies on the audience voluntarily participating.
The stage is a red floor in the centre of the theatre, from which the usual seating is removed to allow the audience to sit on the four sides of the stage space.
The show is begun by managing to get the audience to all follow the same hand movements, and the cast gesture to audience members asking them to stand and giving them a simple story, where we all attend a party of a woman who we are told is upset.
This piece doesn’t have a narrative, but is pieced together by different situations uniting the audience, at points bringing everyone on stage, and asking them to perform certain actions together.
The company says that this piece was developed as a response to the increased social and political polarisation in the US, and that the audience witness and embody social ethical responsibility. Throughout the piece there is, to an extent, a community built between actors and audience and some moments are filled purely with unbridled joy. They show situations where people help performers and young and old dance together. By breaking down the disconnect between performers and audience, we are given a sense of comfort in the space and it is noticeable how the hesitancy to participate falls away from the audience.
A simple soundscape with no more than a few notes lifts the mood and accompanies us in our journey on stage with the piece. Each of the performers are endearing and loveable, welcoming us into The Fever and gently directing us to overcome the fact that we are all strangers, allowing us to simply be there together for the hour and ten minutes.