News > Spoleto Review: Hay Fever a light, bright comedy

Judith Bliss and her young admirer, Sandy. image courtesy Spoleto Festival

The Gate Theatre returns to Spoleto Festival USA with Hay Fever, a comedy by Noel Coward.

The Gate Theatre is in its 84th year and has launched the careers of notable actors like Orson Wells and Michael Gambon (Professor Dumbledore, anyone?).  They were last in Charleston with Present Laughter a couple years back.  Several of the cast are returning from the Druid Theatre’s production of The Cripple of Inishmaan last year.

Hay Fever is the story of the Bliss family, and one horrendous weekend at their country home.  The story opens with Simon and Sorel, the petulant adult children of Judith and David Bliss, aging theatre star and novelist, respectively.  Simon pursues his art while Sorel languishes about on the chaise and they bicker, bicker, bicker.

The children clearly adore their mother, while condescending to her–which she, at times, deserves–and the whole lot is completely ridiculous.  The father barely appears until the 2nd act, and plays the self-absorbed novelist to the hilt.
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The scheming lady and David Bliss, image courtesy Spoleto Festival

The family have all invited a guest down for the weekend, unbeknownst to the rest of the family, and all promise their visitor the same suite, the “Japaneeeeeeese Rohm.”

The visitors, a young admirer of Judith’s, a scheming lady, an awkward diplomat and an overwhelmed flapper prone to tears, are constantly baffled and/or enraged by the family’s unbelievable behavior.  I nearly left at intermission, but am ever so glad that I stayed as the second and third acts were completely worth it.

My favorite moments: the Bliss mother and children reenacting one of her ‘famous’ scenes from the stage. Clara the housekeeper’s Tea For Two song and dance number.  Sorel saying that the entire family is completely rude and ridiculous and that she’s the only one aware, and how she’s trying to change.
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You have plenty more chances.  Go See Hay Fever, you will be glad you did.  The Dock Street Theatre was packed to the gills, so I recommend you get your ticket pronto.

words: Stacy Huggins

Hay Fever, image courtesy Spoleto Festival

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Posted on June 6, 2012 by Art Mag.

Categories: Performing Arts, Review

Tags: Gate Theatre, Hay Fever, Spoleto, Spoleto Festival Usa, Theatre Review

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