Hay Fever (1984)

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Poster by Pip Piacentino

Noël Coward

Directed by Leslie Lidyard

Performances: Weds 22th – Sat 25th February 1984, Bell Theatre


The action takes place in the Hall of the Bliss's House at Cookham in June.

  • Act I - Saturday Afternoon
  • Act II - Saturday Evening
  • Act III - Sunday Morning

There was a 15 minute interval between each act.




Noël Coward's "Hay Fever", which seems to have acquired the mantle of a modern classic, is about a weekend party in the 1920s at the Cookham home of the Bliss family.

....Leslie Lidyard's production is enacted on a bilious set that could pass for the waiting room at Crewe station which might account for the curiously waspish note that creeps into the proceedings.

The Blisses are like exotic butterflies, quarrelsome but without malice; but in the exchanges between Jeremy Ward and Ann-Orange-Bromehead, as Simon and Sorel, the edge is sometimes too cutting for comfort.

Ruth Shettle is grandly theatrical as Judith. Her whole life is a stage performance, and her simplest utterance is delivered as if to an invisible gallery. Don Gillate plays David, too, as a poseur in the grand manner, with a hint of tongue-in-the-cheek roguery.

The guests are a nicely assorted crew. Matthew Lyne is the blazered Sandy Tyrell, a good egg, but something of a silly ass, don'cher know? John Brierley is a mite negative as the diplomatist Richard Greatham, bringing a touch of sobriety to the gathering.

Sharon Pidgeon is the languidly bitchy Myra Arundel, and Laura Hussey plays the timid Jackie Coryton as if she has a mouthful of alum.

Frances Walker makes quite a 'character' out of the servant Clara. As Judith's old dressmaker, she has seen it all, and allows herself a liberty or two, and gives us a few smiles into the bargain.

Donald Madgwick, the Croydon Advertiser - as reprinted in SCENE, with permission.

Audience comments:-

Very enjoyable. Enjoyed it immensely. Loved Act II. Noël Coward is always good to see - Shirley King (Member)

Way over the top - Lynn Jenner (Member)

It was good, I liked it - Helen Emler (Visitor)

I'm usually guarded when amateurs tackle Shakespeare or Coward because of the conflicting acting styles. Not this time. Some delicious big performances; pacy direction moved the amusing plot and larger than life (I'm sure Coward knew them all in real life) characters along to its absurd but logical ending. I came hoping to chuckle at best but was delighted to join the belly laughter. Apart from the set's dreadful colour scheme, a nice one, Les. - Pip Piacentino (Member)


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