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!