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A CurtainUp Review
The Fever Chart: Three Visions of the Middle East
By Elyse Sommer
But Wallace, who's a writer with a poetic bent, is out of her depth in this attempt to use her creative vision to bring new insights to the tinderbox that is the Middle East. It needs more than Wallace's fevered nightmarish visions to clarify the persistent dysfunction of Israeli-Arab relations. Even with Arabs at 20% of the populartion, and to some extent better integrated than ever, the morning after I saw The Fever Chart, the front page of The New York Times headlined a story about Israel's rejoicing in its pending 60th anniversary with "After 60 years Arabs in Israel Are Outsiders."
Though she tries to find grounds for hope, Wallace, whether intentionally or not, comes off as pro-Arab, which is reinforced by her suggested reading list in the program, and the lengthy account of the actual events that prompted her "visions." Two of the pieces are set in Israel, all are subtly directed by Jo Bonney and intriguingly staged.
The first piece is a ghost story of sorts involving a young Israeli settler (Arian Moayed) and a Palestinian woman (Lameece Issaq) and brings an Israeli architect named Shlomo (Waleed F. Zuaiter) on scene. The excellent Zuaiter survives the rhetoric written for his character and returns for the second piece as Mourid Kamal, a grieving Palestinian Israeli father comes to a hospital to confront Tanya (Natalie Gold). It seems that the organ transplant that kept her from succumbing to cystic fibrosis, comes from Kamal's murdered son who is thus literally living on inside her.
The concept of commemorating the losses of all caught up in the Mideast troubles is continued in the third piece a monologue delivered by Omar Metwally which moves Wallace's exploration to Iraq. It's beautifully written and acted but ultimately, too long and, except for a striking visual ending, fails to be dramatically engaging.
Like everything in the LAB series, The Fever Chart has a very limited run and is still a work in progress.
©Copyright 2008, Elyse Sommer.
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