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FUTURISTIC PLAY GROUNDED IN VERY HUMAN EMOTIONS

Print Version

EUTHERMIA / HYPERPYREXIA
Presented by the Making Friends Collective

at BATS Out Of Site - return season, Wellington
1 Jan 1970
[50mins]

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, 20 Feb 2014
originally published in The Dominion Post

Fringe Festival plays don't always have the ability to hold an audience's attention. But the intrigue of one of this week's offerings at Bats Theatre, Euthermia/ Hyperpyrexia does just that in a most original and creative way. 

Euthermia is a medical term for normal body temperature and Hyperpyrexia is the term for abnormally high body temperature, usually seen as fever. 

The normal and the abnormal although the play is more abnormal then normal.

Employee number 20233 starts the show by relating a story about his grandfather as a medic in the First World War. We then discover that he is Charley (Andrew Clarke), a new recruit into what appears to be a medical institution but where there are no patients and no medical staff other than a robotic Doctor (Amy Griffin-Brown) and a group of orderlies. Although having actual names the Doctor refers to them by their employee numbers. Some have been there for many counts, a form of time, and move from rotation to rotation, like shifts, waiting for wounded soldiers to arrive “somewhere in the foreseeable future”.

It is somewhere in the desert where the sun never sets.  The environment is claustrophobic and sterile looking, emphasised by the green panels around the walls.  As the orderlies move from rotation to rotation, the tension builds and the intrigue increases as we try and work out who these people are and what their purpose here is.

There is Employee 20211, Steph (Katie Boyle) who is in charge of the group. Then there is Employee 20213, Jamie (Martin Quicke) who had a thing going with Steph. There is also Employee 20217, Jessica (Jess Old) who is selected over the more competent Employee  20255, Simon (Tom Kereama) to look after the one patient that turns up, Patient number 597 (Maggie White).

While the whole atmosphere created is that of some futuristic world it is anchored in the here and now by the orderlies relating stories about their grandfathers in the Great War and the very human emotions expressed by the characters especially towards the end when tensions rise and tempers flare. And there is a surprising twist at the end that adds even more mystery to the overall fascination of the piece.

The co-direction team of Tony Black and Jonny Crawford have done a sterling job in working the cast into a well-oiled ensemble creating lots of energy and pace to keep the play moving and holding the audience's attention to the very end which is what Fringe Festival plays are all about.
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 John Smythe