This was BRILLIANT! Some of the best acting I have seen on stage! I went to see it 5 times and loved each performance. - Ed Norwood
30 Sep 12
I enjoyed it, but these comments explain why it didn't totally work for me. It really should be Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf done in the style of Ab Fab; we should be egging on the family in its montrous anti-social behaviour.
But in the era of the posh-boy Coalition, it isn't too odd to see posh folk behaving badly. Perhaps it was a novelty in the straitlaced era of Coward? Or maybe they weren't really that posh back then?
I feel the same way watching the Darling family in Disney's Peter Pan. You see them in a nice three storey house in central London, you think, they must be loaded! So when they start baiting self-made man Captain Hook, I start to feel sorry for him.
Likewise when the kids from The Railway Children conspire to get their housemaid the sack. Snotty so-and-sos.
There have been a few of these plays in London of late; The Lion in Winter at the Haymarket at Christmas, while Abigail's Party is just around the corner, each deal with visitors encountering a fractious family or social event.
Afraid I found Northam way too broad for this piece, made me wish for the days of the late Simon Cadell, he'd have been great. And Coleman isn't quite stereotypically vampish, she's cast against type and does well with it, but one doesn't yearn to see her come undone, having met her match with this odd family. - Clive
01 Jun 12
Noel Coward at the Noel Coward - how delightful. Except that it's Hay Fever, the play without a plot which must have been an influence for Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. Howard Davies directs as if it's one of his infinitely more successful Russian dramas and Bunny Christie's set is also oddly inappropriate - the riverside home looks like a converted garage. The performances are mostly excellent and Lindsay Duncan is much closer to the right age for Judith Bliss than was Judi Dench in the last London production but, unlike the incomparable Dame Judi, she totally fails to amke Judith sympathetic or vaguely likeable. Ultimately the problem with Hay Fever is that it can be a tiresome play about an insufferably smug family unless the director successfully exploits to the full the humour which should exist. - David Baxter
17 May 12
Coward filtered through Pinter, with plenty of pregnant pauses that work well - and as for this dysfunctional family they are more Albee than Ayckbourne and the better for it.
A highly enjoyable piece that allows us to anti-empathise and see modern counterparts, rather than view it as a historical piece - Dave J
20 Mar 12
Poor, over acted. Left after first half. Also sound really poor. - Z Sheerin
11 Mar 12
Darling, this production is positively delightful, you must have had ever such a bad day if you didn't like this absolutely frivolous confection, darling! Ok, so this play won't solve the world's economic problems. Indeed, noone in it has any economic problems because they are all incredibly rich and looking for vain trifles to amuse the days away, but what a funny play, and what a hilarious production of that play. Lindsay Duncan is super duper as Judith Bliss, an actress who loves acting so much, that her whole life is one act after another in a search for endless applause. This could be the stuff of tragedy, but here it's wonderfully funny, and Duncan is so assured and light and commanding in the role. I agree with Michael that Duncan's Judith Bliss is not very loveable, but that's not important at all. I utterly disagree with Michael that you have to love this character. I think it's funnier that you maintain some distance and see her all the more clearly. By contrast, Phoebe Waller-Bridge IS loveable in her role as Judith's cantankerous-horse-in-a-china-shop daughter, Sorel, all shaggy mane and horsey open-mouthed abandon, brash and crashing through every scene with open-eyed honesty about the appalling selfishness of herself and her family. She alone of the characters wants to change, and that's the root of her likeability, and Waller-Bridge is pitch perfect in the role. The last performance of major note is that of Jeremy Northam, a heretofore dashing hero of an actor in my eyes, who transforms himself here into a Steve Martin-esque comic fool of restraint and awkwardness and bumbling about. Northam could have been, and could still be, a great comic actor! In slightly more supporting roles, Freddie Fox and Amy Morgan make a strong impression. This production does Noel Coward complete justice in his newly named namesake theatre. So darling, don't be a spoilsport, just go and see this one, it's simply maaarvelllooouuss! - steveatplays
07 Mar 12
Shut up Coveney! No one cares what you think! - John
01 Mar 12
In this mis-judged production only Jeremy Northam shines - Lindsay Duncan certainly looks the part but her Judith seems completely lacking in the charm or dazzling star quality that would make people flock to her on stage or off...and last night she was often inaudible. Olivia Coleman and Kevin R McNally woefully mis-cast...and why was Amy Morgan told to play Jackie as a chirpy cockney - there is no way anyone in the Bliss family would have invited her for the weekend. This can be a sharp, economical and timeless comedy -don't expect that for your £55 this time....but it's Hayfever so there will be another production along in 18 months. - Jonathan
29 Feb 12
I thought this was a fresh and clever production, quite masterful, and don't agree with your rather catty review at all. As for the price of seats, I got my tickets from lastminute.com and they were much cheaper. - Viv
28 Feb 12
This production of Hay Fever works exceeding well with a superb cast and excellent timing - it compares well, if not better, with the last one seen in which Penelope Keith played Judith Bliss. The major disappointment was finding it staged in a garage. Why oh why - it didn't work and detracted from an otherwise splendid performance. Does anyone know why this set was used? - Nick
27 Feb 12
Couldn't disagree more - on the whole a brilliant cast, particularly Phoebe Waller-Bridge who's 'Sorel' is incredible. Lovely play that does feel fresh, aided by a brilliant cast. Well deserving the 4 and 5 star reviews it's been getting! Terry - Terry Lomas
27 Feb 12
Entirely agree: the 88-year-old script comes up fresh as a daisy, but the direction and a lot of the casting has the whiff of old toejam.
Duncan tries hard but it's evident SHE has never seen the play either and she's neither the breath control for the long and complex lines nor the 'actressy' characterisation that makes Judith both a monster, and adorable: Maria Aitken, Judi Dench, Stephanie Beacham all did it ten times better.
Olivia Colman should be phoning her agent to see if there's an escape clause in the contract because she's woefully miscast and not remotely exotic, vampish or dangerous as Myra.
In terms of whether it's worth the ticket price - the £53.50 price band goes all the way back to Row R of the Stalls which is dreadful given that the circle overhangs from Row G after which you get an increasingly cut-off view of the stage until it's effectively a cinemascope slit which cuts off the stairs and landing on which quite a lot happens. The back two rows are £43.50 (plus fees) which for 'restricted view' is criminal. - JohnnyFox
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