Fever Dream Theatre’s BaseCamp promises an immersive experience in the rivalry between two world-class mountain climbers preparing for a joint ascent of a Himalayan mountain. The audience is split between their two tents, hearing one side of the multi-faceted story of their relationship and career. The two tents are connected by walkie-talkie and are within earshot of each other.
Fails to deliver on the undeniable promise of the premise.
Unfortunately, the script fails to deliver on the undeniable promise of that premise. There is a good heart to the show. In my tent, the unnamed climber played by Colette Eaton speaks on her love of the mountains, her competitive drive, and the development of her relationship with the other climber, an agemate who came up through the same instructor. However, the script is underdeveloped in a few ways. Transitions between topics come around seemingly at random, or when the character runs out of things to say. Conversely, much of the writing is overwrought and stilted, leaving Eaton to repeat relatively cheesy, unmotivated lines that feel out of character. Most frustratingly, climbing jargon is listed off and then under-explained, ultimately adding nothing to either the scene-setting or the emotional core of the play.
At a few moments throughout the performance, the climbers checked in with each other via walkie-talkie and occasionally had in person confrontations. The publicity claims that “voices travel through the camp and the line between truth and lies… begins to blur.” Unfortunately, voices did not carry, and there were not very many strong claims made in the tent to doubt or have challenged – only vague allusions to who made it to a given summit first, or an unsubstantiated accusation that the other climber lies to the press. Throughout, it was difficult to gauge the actual nature of the relationship between the two climbers, which made the resolution of sorts at the end of the play less effective than it should have been.
BaseCamp does have its moments – the finale is genuinely heartfelt and goes a long way to actually developing and explaining the characters’ relationship, giving purpose to their joint venture and depth to the connection between them. Alas, it’s too little too late to make up for the vague, meandering majority.