This show has now closed, click here for a listing of current and future London shows
Previewed 10 February 2012 - opened 23 February 2012 - closed 2 June 2012 at the Noel Coward Theatre in London
A major revival of Noel Coward's classic comedy Hayfever in London starring Lindsay Duncan, Jeremy Northam, Kevin McNally and Olivia Colman and directed by Howard Davies.
You are cordially invited to the weekend from hell
Noel Coward's classic comedy Hay Fever is set in the Thames-side country house of Judith Bliss, incandescent star of the London stage, who is now sampling the mixed blessings of early retirement with her family.
The Bliss family have invited various guests to stay the weekend - Judith has a fan coming to stay, Sandy Tyrell; her husband, David, a novelist, has a young flapper girl, Jackie Coryton, visiting in order to study her 'in domestic surroundings' for his next novel; Judith's daughter, Sorel has a diplomat, Richard Greatham; and Judith's son, Simon has invited Myra Arundel. Unfortunately no one has told any of the others that they've invited a guest for the weekend...
This production of Hayfever in London features Lindsay Duncan as 'Judith Bliss', Kevin McNally as 'David Bliss', Jeremy Northam as 'Richard Greatham' and Olivia Colman as 'Myra Arundel'. The production is directed by Howard Davies with designs by Bunny Christie, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mike Walker.
Simon Bliss: What do you mean, exactly, by bad manners? Lack of social tricks and small-talk?
"Written in 1924 by the young Noel Coward, this everyday story of house party folk might now be showing its age a wee bit but Coward's humour is razor sharp as ever. And Bunny Christie's clever set and costumes help it look much younger than its 88 years. As Judith Bliss, the mother of all drama queens, the serene Lindsay Duncan heads a terrific cast... Howard Davies's direction brings glimpses of the core of vulnerability within each character. He keeps the pace fast and the quips coming. Even silences burst at the seams with laughter. Sheer bliss." The Daily Express
"Noel Coward's Hay Fever is given a masterly revival by director Howard Davies and his cast. It is a play not only about the comical dreariness of the visitors but also the grotesque selfishness of the Bliss family: Mother Judith, her husband David and their 20-ish children Simon and Sorel... Bunny Christie's set creates a grand, untidy, high-ceilinged Twenties house. Part-completed sketches hang from the walls. The furniture owes little to comfort. Shades of Cold Comfort Farm... this is one Fever worth catching." The Daily Mail
"This is the first NoŽl Coward play to be staged here since the Albery Theatre was renamed in his honour six years ago. And Howard Davies, who has previously directed Coward with great success, serves up a production of this 1925 comedy of manners that's funny yet also unorthodox and unsettling... Hay Fever is usually treated as a plotless mix of sophisticated small talk and cleverly embroidered cliche. Here it seems a celebration of abnormality and at the same time a disquieting study of both the pleasures and the pains of not being able to restrain oneself. The result is not so much a picture of narcissism gone wild as a slick and sometimes queasy look at a family that can only survive if it preys upon the vulnerability of outsiders." The London Evening Standard
Noel Coward on writing Hay Fever: "The idea came to me suddenly in the garden, and I finished it in about three days, a fact which later on, when I had become news value, seemed to excite gossip-writers inordinately, although why the public should care whether a play takes three days or three years to write I shall never understand. Perhaps they don't. However, when I had finished it and had it neatly typed and bound up, I read it through and was rather unimpressed with it. This was an odd sensation for me, as in those days I was almost always enchanted with everything I wrote. I knew certain scenes were good, especially the breakfast scene in the last act, and the dialogue between the giggling flapper and the diplomat in the first act, but apart from these it seemed to me a little tedious. I think that the reason for this was that I was passing through a transition stage as a writer; my dialogue was becoming more natural and less elaborate, and I was beginning to concentrate more on the comedy values of the situation rather than the comedy values of actual lines."
Hayfever in London at the Noel Coward Theatre previewed from 10 February 2012, opened on 23 February 2012 and closed on 2 June 2012.