Typhoid Fever is heavy on symptoms, light on cures
Jed Feiman’s (COL ‘12) Typhoid Fever, the feature of this year’s Donn B. Murphy One Acts Festival, has high ambitions. Too bad it barely reaches them.
Typhoid Fever follows the relationships between Ken (Joe Napier, COL ’14), a young New York playwright, and four other twenty-somethings at a New York art gallery. Through these bizarre and self-serious interactions, Ken learns to relax and not worry about others’ opinions of his work.
Feiman’s point would be admirable if it were subtler. The single-faceted Herschel (Joe Brown, COL ’11 and Maria Zoulis, COL ’12), for example, is overly melodramatic; the audience chuckles at him rather than with him. Herschel is presented as a weirdo who Ken—and the audience—should strive not to be.
As a result, Typhoid Fever seems to reflect conformist facets of Georgetown culture; hipsters are weird, artists are weirder, and hipster artists are the weirdest. One should accede instead of rebelling because, somehow, conformists care least about what others think about them. Feiman tried to explore conformity from a unique perspective, but propagates and blocks his message with Hershel’s antics.
Nonetheless, Typhoid Fever is not a disaster. The relationship drawn between the scenes, which slide between a dream world and reality, contrasts well with the play’s single act. Through the confusion, Ken and the audience learn the differences between the two worlds. And while some of the acting is stilted and forced, John Flanagan (COL ’14) stands out in minor roles as both a waiter and serial killer. [Editor’s note: Flanagan writes for Vox.]
Typhoid Fever will not reinterpret your life. It will make you chuckle, but it will also make you cringe. The play has successful moments sprinkled throughout its short running time, which hint at Feiman’s talent as a playwright, but falls short of its high aim.
The Donn B. Murphy Acts Festival, which opened yesterday, will close this Sunday. Performances will be held in Poulton Hall on Thursday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and on Sunday at 4 p.m. Tickets cost $7 for general admission, $5 for students.
Photo: Julianne Deno