Having seen various poster adverts for Hay Fever, and having to be in London during the day for work, I decided to get a ticket for the show not realising it was opening night until I arrived at the theatre with the red carpet out, lots of staff and various paparazzi hanging around!
But why did I book to see Hay Fever in the first place? There were two elements to this: the fact it was a Noel Coward comedy and the fact it starred Felicity Kendal. Because of these factors, I went in with very high expectations and I was not disappointed.
Hay Fever is one of Coward's early plays, first performed in 1925, based on the bohemian lifestyles if the 1920s. At times I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer absurdity of the characters, played so convincingly by all the whole cast.
Felicity Kendal played the recently retired actress, Judith Bliss, the theatrical and melodramatic mother of an unconventional family. She played the role with conviction and comedic precision so that one could not help but fall in love with her outrageous dramatic nature.
Simon Shepherd, a surprise delight in the cast, played the patriarch David Bliss who appeared at the start of the play to be, if you'll pardon the play on words, blissfully unaware of his families exuberant ways, developing brilliantly into the explosively angry character as the story unfolds.
The grown up Bliss children, Sorel and Simon, played by Alice Orr-Ewing and Edward Franklin, are as dramatic and outrageous as their mother. In her theatrical debut, Alice captivated me with the range of emotion she portrayed, throwing herself with gusto into the role of this fiery character apparently trying to better herself!
The guests, or some might say victims, of the Bliss family, play their individual roles impeccably.
Celeste Dodwell played the character of Jackie Coryton brilliantly, with a feeling shyness and with occasional squeaks and exclamations that were brilliantly timed for comedy effect. Edward Killingback played the innocent and somewhat naïve character of Sandy Tyrell, a loved up youth whose affections are easily distracted. Michael Simkins played the man of few words, but excellent comedic pauses, Richard Greatham. Sara Stewart completed the guests, playing the role of the vivacious, self assured and irrepressible Myra Arundel.
A special mention must go to Mossie Smith who played the downtrodden dress fitter come house maid, Clara. Her dancing during Act 3 was incredibly funny and juxtaposed brilliantly to the half hearted door opening during Act 1.
A favourite scene of mine, apart from the over the top eccentricity of Judith Bliss throughout the whole play, was the scene between the characters of Richard and Jackie. Their ability to hold the audience through long, awkward silences, was impressive.
The set was well thought out and provided all of the various entrances and exits (and bannisters to slide down) needed for the absurdity to play out on.
It is true at times I was not sure if I was laughing at what was intended - the dialogue and the excellent comedic acting - or the pure absurdity of the scene which at times bordered on pure farce, or all of these combined.
All I can say is that Hay Fever delivered all I expected and more. A superbly written comedy play performed by a talented and captivating cast.
Hay Fever plays at The Duke of York's Theatre and is booking until August 1st 2015.