Stratford Festival’s “Hay Fever”

On October 5th, I got to see my final play of Stratford’s season: Noel Coward’s Hay Fever. I was excited to see this play because it was being performed by some of my most favourite actors, and it meant that I had once again been able to partake of all the Festival has to offer, which is honestly an amazing feeling.

Hay Fever was in interesting play, and I found that it fit in with the theme of the season very well. The plotline itself was rather odd though, it had farcical elements but also it seemed to almost be like an absurdist play. It had many of the in and out elements of farce, but seemed to be missing the third act where everything goes completely awry. And yet in that third act, the sort of absurd elements come into play, as they have gone completely back to normal and seem to forget everything that had happened the night before. It made for a very different experience, and yet one that I certainly enjoyed.

Visually, this play was beautiful! I loved the set especially. I basically want my house to look like that: books everywhere (even when you sit), art adorning the walls, and chez lounges instead of couches. And then the costumes were fantastic! The 20’s are such a beautiful time for clothing, and they certainly made sure these characters looked amazing. The opulence of their dinner outfits in contrast to their slightly disheveled house makes the situation even more amusing. One of the most hilarious features of the set was the staircase. There was a funny step, that made everyone trip except for Lucy Peacock’s character Judith, who just glided over it like it didn’t matter. It made us all laugh so hard every time!

The acting in this play was superb! The whole cast was wonderful, and made the play engaging for me. I personally really enjoyed Lucy Peacock, Gareth Potter and Cynthia Dale’s performances, it truly was a very solid ensemble cast. They were able to bring these interesting and odd characters to life in a very believable way. To me, they were all exceptionally well cast, and that makes a huge difference in the play. There needs to be a great contrast between the Bliss family and their guests, and I found that this was certainly achieved and that makes the play all the more amusing.

Of course the other issue to deal with is how madness factors into this play. I don’t’ want to go too in depth here as I will be writing a larger piece about the season soon, but this play had a very different and very interesting look at madness. Really, it looks at madness via social perception, and how their guests view them versus how they view themselves. I found it to be very fascinating, because it was so different from the other plays presented this season, and very much like the domestic comedy of manners.

Normally, I would be highly recommending you go and see this show, but unfortunately it has closed for the year. Hopefully you were able to enjoy this production and loved it as much as I did!

University Player’s “Molière Impromptu”

The University Players at the University of Windsor (my alma mater) started off the season with roaring laughter! Molière Impromptu was a riot fit for 17th Century France that was wonderfully enjoyable. Having studied both Molière and the time period in several classes, this play was wonderful both for entertainment but intellectually for me as well.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about this show was its use of Commedia Dell’Arte. It fits in perfectly with the show, as Commedia was one of Molière’s greatest influences and those stereotypes are ever present in his plays. Watching the characters of the play embody the typical characters of Commedia Dell’Arte was fabulous and funny. Plus, knowing that the students study Commedia throughout their university career, it gave them a great opportunity to show off what they’ve learned.

Another aspect that I really enjoyed was that it was a play about playwriting. There are going to be two plays like that this season and I eagerly await the second one. For me, it’s interesting to look at how we choose to remember these playwrights that it’s not just through their own work, or through academic paper, but through their own medium: plays. It makes me wonder how future generations are going to view these playwrights and how much of an impact plays like this will have on that view. That being said, it’s also very funny because it is a play about putting on a play, it is easy to find the stereotypes presented within any theatre company. I loved it, and it made the story even more enjoyable!

The performances by the entire cast were wonderful. It was clear to see how much hard work and dedication went into this play. It was a wonderful ensemble piece, and it’s actually very difficult to talk about them all individually or point out specific people. Each one brought something wonderful to the play, and I felt like they made these stock characters come to life in a most beautiful way. I am so incredibly proud of all of them. It’s such a blessing to be able to see the wonderful young people who I have had the pleasure of acting with, having class with, hanging out with, and teaching on stage in their 4th year, having lead roles and absolutely owning the stage. While it means I go a bit mama bear on them and shower them with my love, it is only because it is totally deserved and I know how hard they work to put on such an incredible show.

I simply must mention the amazing job that was done by the Scenic Artist and Costume designer, David Court and Agatha Knelsen respectively. The actors were adorned in such beautiful garments, and got to be on such a beautiful set it seemed almost surreal. I was so in love with the whole thing, and the people beside me were so impressed, they asked me “Isn’t the theatre like this all the time?” to which I got to answer “No, David created this beautiful place all his own and just for this show.” It’s truly amazing. I am always impressed by their work, and have been since I was a little girl, but this was something truly beautiful; they took this time period which I have studied so much and then made it real before my eyes. It was smashing!

While I would normally be telling you to rush out and get your tickets, I am unfortunately too late on that front. However, what I can tell you is that you definitely need to get your tickets for their next show as soon as you can, and please come out and support these fabulous students in their pursuit of what they love.