The Inheritance of Genius

“We were the IVF Mafia”

Prof Richard Myers

PEnsemble in The Fever Syndrome (Photo: Ellie Kurttz)

Alexis Zegerman’s latest play looks at the family of an outstandingly successful doctor.  The fictional embryologist Professor Richard Myers (Robert Lindsay) is said to have worked with Patrick Steptoe at Bourn Hall in Cambridgeshire, where the first test tube baby was conceived and born.   In fact the term test tube is an inaccuracy because Louise Brown was actually conceived in a Petri dish.   

Professor Robert Myers has a wall covered in photographs of the babies created by IVF thanks to him.  What is missing from this photograph collection is a photograph of his only grandchild, Lily (Nancy Allsop) the lone child of his daughter Dorothea (Lisa Dillon), not because she was conceived by IVF but because she is his blood relative.  Lily has a genetic illness, the very rare fever syndrome of the title which causes her temperature to rise with seizures as the result.

The professor is increasingly disabled by Parkinson’s Disease.  His third wife, Megan (Alexandra Gilbreath) is caring for him in their unmodernised, peeling wallpaper West Side, New York Brownstone house.  His children, Dorothea (Dot) and her husband Nathaniel (Nate) (Bo Poraj), his twin son Tom (Alex Waldmann) and boyfriend Philip Tennyson (Jake Fairbrother) are waiting for Tom’s twin Anthony (Sam Marks) to arrive from California.  They have been invited to witness their father getting an award for lifetime achievement. Lily has been trying out the newly installed chair lift. 

Alexandra Gilbreath as Megan Myers and Robert Lindsay as Professor Richard Myers (Photo: Ellie Kurttz)

Tom is an artist but like the photos of Lily, his painting gifts to his father are unseen, stored in the loft.  Richard says Tom has always been fiercely independent.  This independence might also be impacting on his future with Philip. 

It seems that everyone has their own agenda for Richard’s wealth.  Tom wants to explore cures for Parkinson’s; Dot wants to conceive another child pre-screened for fever syndrome and money to care for Lily, and Anthony has his own crypto-currency business.  Megan wants to make sure that they can continue living in this house. 

This is a showcase for Robert Lindsay’s acting the man hampered by Parkinson’s and haunted by the vision of Dot as a little girl.  He rages and explodes with frustration at his disability and at the Republican Party and Sarah Palin. 

Dot is described as “Dissatisfaction” from childhood to adulthood.  Her longing for another child, not like Lily, is sadly overheard. Her husband Nate published some research late and was accused of stealing someone else’s intellectual property and wants a job with Professor Myers’s institute. 

Lizzie Clachan had a complicated design brief to construct this house on three floors with views of a few bedrooms so that some conversations can be overheard.  The unfortunate result, like the play itself, is overstuffed compartments, cramping the acting and direction. 

Maybe Alexis Zegerman had a vision for a series like Succession rather than one, almost three hour, play.  Certainly, The Fever Syndrome seems to be full of themes yet to be developed. 

Ensemble The Fever Syndrome (Photo: Ellie Kurttz)

Production Notes

The Fever Syndrome

Written by Alexis Zegerman

Directed by Roxana Silbert



Robert Lindsay

Lisa Dillon

Alexandra Gilbreath

Nancy Allsop

Sam Marks

Bo Poraj

Alex Walhmann

Jake Fairbrother

Charlotte Pourret Wythe



Director: Roxana Silbert

Designer:  Lizzie Clachan

Movement Design: Wayne Parsons

Lighting Designer: Matt Haskins

Sound Designer: Max Pappenheim


Running Time: Two hours 50 minutes with an interval

Booking to April 2022



Hampstead Theatre 

Eton Avenue

Swiss Cottage

London NW3 3EU

Phone: 020 7722 9301


Tube: Swiss Cottage



by Lizzie Loveridge at

Hampstead Theatre 

on 4th April 2022