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The Fever Chart

Today we saw The Fever Chart, Three Visions of the Middle East, a play in three acts by Naomi Wallace, at the Central Square Theater in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  The acting, direction, lighting and etc. was fantastic and the play was disturbing in a good way.  Whereas none of the characters were terrorists, many were victims of something in some way – war, occupation, chance if chance you call it.

John Gardner in his book, The Art Of Fiction, discredits the idea of the ‘victim story’ as ‘unusable’ because it is unsatisfactory to the reader.  Although he never quite says so, I believe this is because as readers we want to see transformation; therefore a victim in Gardner’s universe is a character to whom things happen, end of story.  Sad, but not particularly interesting.

For a story about a victim to fly, there must be something other than victimhood.  There must be acts of courage, sudden revelations, something.  This is what Wallace does so well in her play.  The characters start out seeming easily identifiable, and gradually reveal themselves to be interconnected in the most surprising ways and in themselves very, very complex.

In the end it is not a feel-good play, but a play worth seeing nevertheless.

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