Fever Theater. How to say this. I'm not mad, I'm just... just a little disappointed. Your production of Mitlaufer was one of my favorite shows of 2006: It was ambitious, smart, and a lot of fun. So I was looking forward to Billum Bay, eager to see what you came up with next, hoping for great things. And what can I say? I was disappointed.
The dense, fascinating Mitlaufer was a great foil for Fever's talents, engaging the audience in a challenging conversation about creativity, art, and commerce. Billum Bay doesn't offer much in the way of a challenge; instead, prodigious amounts of creativity are squandered on an over-long, meandering, half-baked ghost story.
All the children in Old Post Town have disappeared save for one; the child that's left, the off-kilter Abela, wanders about looking for her lost doll as the townspeople around her drink, gossip, and go crazy. There are some interesting moments here: at church, a vicar doles out booze from the pulpit, while a heartsick hotel owner spends her days scrubbing and rescrubbing the floor of her hotel. Unfortunately, these moments don't add up to anything: The characters are all endowed with an air of portentousness, but it's never quite clear what their overwrought gestures and cryptic dialogue foreshadow, exactly. The production as a whole suffers from the same affliction, relying heavily on innuendo and creepy sight gags to set the mood. The result? A show that's heavy on mood and light on actual substance.
It seems like half the shows I've seen this season have featured adults playing children. This didn't bother me before, but Billum Bay pushed me straight over the edge: Amber Whitehall's precious, wide-eyed portrayal of Abela is thoroughly grating. In general, though, the ensemble handles the material well enough: I can't imagine that this script would fare any better in different hands.
I feel like I've said this before about Fever, but there are enough moments of potential here to make the show's ultimate failure that much more frustrating. I know they can do better, because I've seen it—I can only hope that someday I'll see it again.