Through June 25|
HAY FEVER Irish Classical Theatre Company/Andrews Theatre
Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever” is a classic comedy, a play written in three days which has survived for almost a century.
It’s a comedy of people, a silly family built around an actress and a novelist who have raised their children in a way which produces self-important jerks.
For this British country weekend, they have invited friends.
Director Gordon McCall has some strong performances to work with, like Josephine Hogan’s Judith Bliss and David Oliver’s David Bliss, as well as Jacob Albarella’s Sandy Tyrell, David Lundy’s Richard Greatham and Andrea Gollhardt’s Clara, seemingly the entire staff of the house.
What the director has and doesn’t need is severe overacting from Marisa Caruso’s Sorel Bliss and Jordan Levin’s Simon Bliss.
The director should have controlled these two because “Hay Fever” isn’t a farce, although it certainly has farcical moments.
It’s supposed to be a tightly controlled comic tale of a truly awful weekend in the country, while what we get is some serious rug-chewing from some performers.
Fortunately, McCall has Oliver and Hogan in the essential roles, on Paul Bostaph’s flexible and shifting set.
She’s a well-known performer in the West End who is considering returning to the stage.
He’s a successful novelist in the last pages of his latest novel.
Judging by some scenes, theirs is a flexible about monogamy marriage.
This was the day when people arrived with formal dress, ready for formal dinners and after-dinner games, even if a country house like that of the Bliss family apparently has only one staff member.
As the guests arrive, they begin to understand this will be an awful experience, as the basic flaws of the Bliss children and the vacancy of the parents become clear.
There are a lot of country house weekend stories about silly events and the soft footfalls up and down the corridor as guests shift from their bedrooms to other people’s bedrooms, late in the evening.
This is the kind of weekend in the country which will be told over a glass or two of port afterwards, a tale of: You can’t believe this awful weekend down in Cookham with Judith and David Bliss and those awful children.
This behavior could be fodder for John Rosemond’s column, especially with parents who could care less.
They also can’t understand why the guests are tiptoeing around Sunday morning and carrying their luggage away, taking a lift to the train station to get out of the house.
Coward must have endured some truly awful country house weekends, accumulating the material he used to put “Hay Fever” together.
Despite the rug chewing from a couple of the cast members, the basic material carries the show and lets you realize how strong Oliver and Hogan are, to overcome some poor casting choices.
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