May 2009

Hay Fever
by Noël Coward

Directed by
Rita Vango

A delight throughout
Michael Gray

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Hay Fever is a comedy of bad manners by Noël Coward.

It was written in 1924 and, inspired by a weekend he spent at the house of an actor friend, Coward wrote the play in just three days. It is set in an English country house and deals with the four eccentric members of the Bliss family and their outlandish and self-centred behaviour when they each, unbeknown to the others, invite a guest to spend the weekend. The self-centred behaviour of the hosts during an after dinner word game that only they understand, finally drives their guests to flee the following morning. The Blisses become so engaged in a family row that they do not notice their guests' furtive departure.

Judith Bliss tells her children Sorel and Simon that she has invited a weekend guest.

The family squabble and bicker over the fact that none of them knew that the others were inviting guests.

Judith announces to the delight of her children that she is to return to the stage.

The three of them act out a scene from a favourite play of Judith's, "Love's Whirlwind"

Judith welcomes her guest Sandy Tyrell much to the annoyance of Simon and Sorel.

Myra Arundel arrives, invited by Simon, much to the displeasure of Judith who hates her.

The last two guests Richard Greatham and Jackie Coryton are greeted in a surly manner by Simon.

Judith's husband David Bliss arrives, treating his guest, Jackie, in an offhand way, to complete the cast of family and friends who all now have tea.

Later that evening after dinner, Judith insists on everyone taking part in a role-playing game based on the manner of a word.  Sorel is chosen to go first and asks her mother to act in the manner of a word chosen by the group.

Judith coyly acts out a scene involving a flower in the manner of the word 'winsomely'.

Judith flirts with Richard whilst no-one else is around.

David finds Myra alone and flirts outrageously with her.

After a lengthy seduction, Myra and David fall into an embrace only to be discovered by Judith.

Acting out a histrionic display as the wronged wife, Judith "gives" David to Myra much to her horror.

Simon and Jackie return from the garden whereupon Simon suddenly announces that they are engaged.
Jackie is dumbfounded.

As the family descend into their make-believe world, they reprise the ending of "Love's Whirlwind".

The following morning over breakfast, Sandy and Jackie reflect on the previous evening's events.

The four guests decide to leave quietly before the Bliss family appears.

After the four have taken their leave of Clara, the maid, she sings "Tea for Two" whilst clearing the table.

Oblivious to their guests, Simon and Sorel read Judith's notices in the papers.

David appears, having finished his book, which he reads aloud.  Judith argues with him about a minor detail in it.

The argument reaches fever pitch as the guests creep out unseen.

On hearing the sound of a car engine, the family suddenly realises that their social weekend is over...

...and they revert to their normal eccentric life.



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