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

10 Comments on “Typhoid Fever is heavy on symptoms, light on cures

  1. So the only good thing you have to say is about the acting of a Vox writer. Otherwise, just more of the usual “trash our fellow students” routine?

    Can someone please alert the campus media to the fact that no one really enjoys reading opinion pieces that take shots at our classmates’ efforts? GUSA’s meetings are boring, the Corp had a long checkout line, this play didn’t live up to expectations, GUGS burned a burger last week.

    Just stop. Please. The ratio of stories insulting students’ efforts versus praising them is inversely proportional to the quality of student activity at Georgetown.

    And I’ll put my money where my mouth is by saying that Vox is awesome the vast majority of the time. But it’s a shame that arguably the loudest “voice” on campus uses its position to tear down others so routinely.

  2. Tim, I don’t think it is fair to go after an art critic for criticizing that which is in front of them. Reviews of student theater, both those in the Voice and in the Hoya, are generally ‘mostly positive,’ rarely do you see exuberant raves or all-out take-downs (even when the shows deserve them, see: last year’s Taming of the Shrew). I don’t see a general negative tendency among the art critics in these publications and feel as though the above review is a fair one, if not a complete one (after all, not once is the direction or production of this show mentioned).

  3. Hey, I really don’t have a problem with someone giving constructive criticism for a show, but I’d also like to point out the fact that this critic missed the first 5-10 minutes (Of a 35 minute one-act) because she arrived late. Just sayin’…..

  4. Kid A, I actually did not arrive late and, therefore, did not miss the first 5-10 minutes. I attended a special press showing on Tuesday. Just saying.

  5. The critic missed the point. And Jed is not only an artist but a wizard.

  6. This is nothing against rowley (the director) or any of the actors, but I enjoyed this much more when it was read out with scripts at last year’s dbmoaf. I actually thought Herschel was hysterical, but overall i don’t think the whole cast really understood what their roles were supposed to be. Ken wasn’t nearly as neurotic as the script makes him out to be, and maria was way over the top. I still enjoyed it though

  7. The idea of reviewing a play – especially a comedy! – in a private “press showing” without an audience is itself laughable. I saw the play on Friday and it was a scream! Congratulations to all involved.

  8. RH says: Feb.6,2011 that the premise for the play as well as the acting were superb. I truly believe the critic doesn’t get Jed’s humor which is way above the critic reviewing his material. Jed has proven time and time again that he is hilarious and the production was fantastic. Kudos to all involved. I attended 3 performances, including the one that Jed substituted in and I and my friends couldn’t stop laughing.

  9. @RH
    The box for “name” is what will appear on the blog (as it is for all WordPress blogs). I have updated this for you.

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