Review: ‘Fever’ (Part of South

Review: ‘Fever’ (Part of South African Season at Jermyn Street Theatre)

Meticulous and spooky period piece by acclaimed South African playwright Reza de Wet, in its last two weeks at Jermyn Street Theatre in London,

Review: ‘Fever’ (Part of South
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Fever, written by Reza de Wet and performed by Sian Clifford and Peta Cornish

This strange and haunting tale of two devoted English sisters, one who worked as an English governess on a remote Boer sheep farm in the 1890s, the other who seems to live in a seaside hotel back home in England, is a meticulous period piece.

After the death of the governess Emma (Sian Clifford), her sister Katy (Peta Cornish), a married woman with children, finds her hidden diary and reads, not even between the lines, of Emma’s yearning for home, her hatred of Boer habits, backwardness and brutality, and her disturbing feelings of frenzied sexual awakening.

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A small two-hander with plenty of power and a spooky compellingness, it is not hard to recognise the isolation, her isolation, in the big white homestead beyond the family graveyard, in a flat, dry, rural desert of monochrome tone and bible reading culture.

Clifford and Cornish keep their identities cleverly apart despite working on a stage the size of a handkerchief, as they build the tension and impending denouement.

Written in (the late) De Wet’s sharp and precise style, it sometimes feels like her real-life birthplace, Senekal in the Free State, is just off stage, watching judgementally.


Remaining shows of Fever are on 30 June and 8,10, 12 July at 9pm, 1,3, 5, 9 and 11 July at 7pm.

The South African Season runs until Saturday 12 July.

Jermyn Street Theatre, 16b Jermyn Street, London SW1Y 6ST

Box office 020 7287 2875

By Marianne Gray

Read our five-star review of another production in the South African Season: District 6: Our Buckingham Palace