Hay Fever is absolutely fabulous.
More from GT Stage
No, really. This new West End production of Noel Coward’s 1924 play is like a period version of Absolutely Fabulous, and as such it’s utterly joyous.
Now don’t get us wrong, we’ve enjoyed Hay Fever on many an occasion and in many a guise (most recently touring the UK with Stephanie Beacham) but it’s incredible to see how fresh the piece is once more as it begins life anew in London at The Noel Coward Theatre. Even the set – one of the best we’ve seen in a long while – is so brilliantly now, while still retaining the charm and opulence you’d expect of the period (and indeed such a bizarrely eccentric family).
Bunny Christie’s design doesn’t limit itself just to the set however, with the female characters dressed so divinely you’ll leave the theatre wishing it was the 1920s just so you could experience that much glamour on a daily basis.
Recently retired actress Judith Bliss (Lindsay Duncan) now lives in the country with her seemingly spoilt children Sorel (Phoebe Waller-Bridge) and Simon (Freddie Fox) and her novelist husband David (Kevin R McNally). By chance – or perhaps calculated coincidence – they each invite a potential admirer/suitor to their home for the weekend, much to the chagrin of their housemaid Clara (Jenny Galloway).
It seems that Judith isn’t the only one with a touch of the theatrical about her as one by one the family begin to pair off with each others’ guests and start playing out a bizarre game that seems quite normal behaviour to them.
As characters the Bliss family are quite unlikeable, as performers on the stage they’re magnificent. Director Howard Davies has a delightful cast that perform with impeccable comic timing and it’s the women that steal the show. Lindsay Duncan camps it up just perfectly as the sort of actress we all know (and adore) and Olivia Colman is as magnificent as ever. Jenny Galloway’s maid is a delight.
Divinely wonderful, terrifically jolly and quite, quite super – this is definitely the kind of Hay Fever you want in your life.
Booking until 2 June, Noel Coward Theatre, St Martin’s Lane, London, hayfeverlondon.com
Words: Darren Scott