The Fever

Others have tried–most recently Brad Light at the Rhino in Winter fest–but no one in Chicago performs Wallace Shawn’s earnest, witty, insightful monologue The Fever as well as David Shapiro. While others take pains to reproduce Shawn’s high, nervous stutter or his intense, anxious way of speaking, Shapiro–who looks nothing like Shawn–delivers this 90-minute piece in an easygoing, teacherly style that’s the very antithesis of a New Yorker’s hectic ways. Yet Shapiro (who first performed The Fever in 1992 at the Chicago Dramatists Workshop) manages to convey all sides of Shawn’s feverish persona: the kvetching, spoiled kid disillusioned with the world; the angry, humorless radical who’d dearly love to make the world better; the ironic-sarcastic commentator amused by both Shawn the crypto-Marxist and Shawn the whiny little guy. More than that, Shapiro makes us believe that he too is going through a dark night of the soul triggered by stomach flu, that he too suddenly doubts everything he held dear, that he too is disgusted by everything that once pleased him. And, most riveting of all, that he too is now a man adrift, wiser but no happier or freer. Steppenwolf Theatre Company, Studio Theatre, 1650 N. Halsted, 312-335-1650. April 8 through 15: Tuesdays, 7:30 PM. $10. –Jack Helbig

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): David Shapiro photo/ uncredited.