Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Temperatures are Rising in the University of Delaware's REP's production of "Fever"

The University of Delaware's Resident Ensemble Players (REP) ends its 2012-13 season with the World Premiere production of Fever, written especially for the REP by Theresa Rebeck. Ms. Rebeck, one of America's most celebrated playwrights and authors, is probably best known for creating the NBC drama Smash.

Fever takes place in a Midwestern bar where the owners, Laila (Elizabeth Hefflin) and Nick (Stephen Pelinski), are faced with a tough decision about the bar's future. Business has been steadily declining, but the bar has been in Laila's family for generations and the actual bar was hand carved by her great-great-great-grandfather, and she is struggling with the idea of selling the business.

 Like most bars, this establishment has its regulars:
• Margo (Kathleen Pirkl Tague) the business woman who's good at what she does, but unhappy with 
     her company's male chauvinistic culture;
• Barry (Steve Tague) the loveable dimwitted man, the type that's always found sitting at the end of 
     the bar;
• Patrick (Mic Matarrese) the down-on-his luck guy who's trying to keep up appearances - show up   
     nightly to drink and chat.

However, our usual suspects' worlds change suddenly when a new couple, Irene (Carine Montbertrand) and Ned (Michael Gotch), dine at the bar one evening and begin arguing over the differing views of men and women, which then spills over into the regulars' conversation. The argument was pretty much standard fare: men feeling superior over women; women fighting to be taken seriously in relationships and the workplace.

The play's not groundbreaking, but it is enjoyable and humorous. It's like an extended episode of Cheers - a slim plot with a bunch of people arguing in a bar. The ensemble cast - which also includes Deena Burke as a broker looking to sell an important piece in the bar - does a fine job developing their characters. Mr. Tague was a particular stand-out. He perfectly captured the guy at the bar that everyone loves and who tries to keep the peace, but still manages to put his foot in his mouth.

The set provides the ninth character in the play. Scenic Designer, Anne Clark, along with the rest of the set crew designed a gorgeous bar. With its intricate carvings and beautiful curves, it does look as if it was carved in the 1800s. There are some FUN additions to the set that I won't give away, but before you leave the theater make sure you check out the bar's entrance/exit for a set piece that's not commonly seen in Delaware bars anymore!

Although the topics of sexism and "men are from Mars, women are from Venus" are familiar, maybe Ms. Rebek is trying to remind us that our society is still struggling with these issues and we need to continue the dialogue for improvement.

Fever at the Thompson Theatre in the Roselle Center for the Arts closes on May, 4. Visit or call 302.831.2201 for additional information and to purchase tickets.

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