“Cabin fever is an idiomatic term, first recorded in 1918, for a claustraphobic reaction that takes place when a person or group is isolated and/or shut in a small space, with nothing to do for an extended period. Cabin fever describes the extreme irritability and restlessness a person may feel in these situations. A person may experience cabin fever in a situation such as being in a simple country vacation cottage. When experiencing cabin fever, a person may tend to sleep, have distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail ”
Thank you Wikipedia.
Three years ago I was in France for Christmas with a friend and her family in a beautiful 15th century manor house in Nimes. It was December, the snow was deep and crisp and beautiful to someone who’s used to hot sun and dry soils. There were six of us staying in this enormous chateau, and we had great visions of holing ourselves up for the winter, watching tv, eating bread and olive oil and playing romantic French songs on the old piano beside the fire. The first meal was perfect, we chatted away in rolling French and everyone seemed to be enjoying everyone who was enjoying them. A cosy scene indeed.
As time went on, however, the frost in the wind outside seemed to seep under the cracks in the doors and windows, and little by little we became disenchanted with one another. The food became less divine, the weather went from magical to thoroughly depressing, and my friend’s warm and welcoming family slowly turned into a small group of very sad, very irritable individuals. Time wore on, and spats turned to frequent screaming matches, until when I woke up in the mornings the house seemed a little smaller than it did when I’d gone to sleep the night before. The walls closed in around us, pressing us together and forcing us to accept our mutual humanness – our stupid mistakes, our boring conversations, our lack of talent and vibrancy in all but a few exhausted areas. I found myself wrapping up in every piece of clothing I had brought and venturing out into the deep, sludgy snow to get out of the giant hairy moustache that was that family.
To this day I hate snow, and I hate Nimes, and I haven’t spoken to the family since. It was a blessed reprieve to step out into the departure terminal in Paris, and I daresay they were relieved to see me go.
This is called Cabin Fever. When two or more people are isolated in a confined space for too long, without external stimuli or contact with nature, bad things happen. People start to go a little mad, start to do things that they would otherwise do. I think it hearkens back to our fear of being in a cave with a big rock rolled across it. Where do we go if something attacks from the inside?
There are only three things that scare me to the point of having a phobia:
1. clowns (whoever thought that was ok??)
2. the fear that I will one day be homeless and living on a moth-eaten patch quilt on the streets of New York with an anemic cat that I’ve called Miss Puss.
3. Being trapped in an inescapable place
Yelena is trapped in so many ways – she is trapped in a disillusioned marriage to a man she can’t bring herself to love. She is trapped in her obligations to her step-daughter which deny her the freedom to love the one person she could possibly have a chance with, and she is trapped in this house full of bitter, dissatisfied people whose hearts and minds are either too tired or too inaccessible to be of any comfort to her.
Of course, we’re all trapped in this little freak show that is Uncle Vanya, in our own twisted way. We are planets in orbit, revolving around and inextricably bound to a locus that seems to be a vacuum of What Ifs and If Only I Hads.
While I agree with Jeff that this play is a comedy, and I agree that we’re all a little cartoonish in one sense or another, I think there’s something very powerful about Cabin Fever and the way it’s going to affect us all out there on stage. Think about this, next time we rehearse, or next time you’re going over lines. ” A person may tend to sleep, have distrust of anyone they are with, and an urge to go outside even in the rain, snow, dark or hail.” Again, it begs the question – what do you do when something attacks from the inside?