MU Theatre snags laughs with satire ‘Fever/Dream’

“Fever/Dream” mocks the corporate world by humorously showing the dehumanization of business shaken up by an outsider named Segis.

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MU’s Theatre Department delivered five performances of Sheila Callaghan’s comedic, satirical play “Fever/Dream.” Directed by Lainie Vansant, fourth year theater Ph.D. student, the department lets loose in the quirky, almost magical 2009 remake of Pedro Calderón de la Barca’s “Life Is a Dream,” originally written in 1635.

“Fever/Dream” provides an exaggerated satire on the bore of the corporate world through portraying employees as mindless ants, comparing desk jobs to a prison and mocking the glamour of being on top of the corporate world by having immature individuals top the corporate pyramid.

In the play, Segis, played by Ian Downes, is trapped in the basement of an empirical, top-tier corporation, Basil Enterprises. He is portrayed as a mad man that is incapable of language other than his repetitive script for his customer service job. Segis idolizes the company’s founder, Bill Basil, as a father figure because Segis is unaware of his own origins. In a bizarre turn of events, Basil, played by Steven Moore, snatches Segis out of the corporation’s basement, claims him as his son and allows him to lead the company after his retirement.

However, Segis takes business metaphors such as “keeping his employees on a tight leash” too literally and wreaks havoc on the monotonous Basil Enterprises’ stocks and Hydra-like reputation, prompting his return to the dark basement. Segis is told that he is a mad man who simply dreamed the whole experience of being the man he always fantasized being.

After returning to customer service, company employees begin to idolize Segis who made them feel like more than just another cog in the corporate machine and reignited real emotions into the robotic employees. The employees rescue him to stage an ultimately successful mutiny to restore life to the aging Basil Enterprises.

“The show was a whole lot weirder than what I expected,” audience member Albert Tello said. “I didn’t expect it to be funny at all. I thought it would be intense and all, but it was actually hilarious.”

The play intertwines dramatic, serious business dialogue with impromptu dance numbers to electronic music in an effort to mock the seriousness of adult life. Utterly ridiculous scenarios cause the play’s cast to noticeably restrain laughs to stay in character, but also reminds audiences that life is meant to be enjoyed instead of senselessly overstructured.

Edited by Alexandra Sharp | asharp@themaneater.com

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