Ichabod is itchy

July 18, 2006

Hayfever

Filed under: theatre — by ichabodisitchy @ 6:14 pm

We went to watch the Noel Coward play Hayfever (playing at the Haymarket Theatre, London) over the weekend. It is a side-achingly funny play, set in 1925, about the bad manners of a melodramatic and slightly bonkers family who all, independently, invite guests down to their country home for the weekend and then proceed to entertain, flirt with, ignore, embarass and humiliate them in one way or another. The guests become increasingly alarmed and distraught and eventually make their escape by creeping out of the house during a blazing family row over breakfast.

Judi Dench headlines the play as Judith Bliss (the mother of the ‘host’ family) and was superb in her role as the overly-dramatic ageing West End star who has been forced into early retirement. The whole thing was deliciously funny from beginning to end and simply wonderful to watch.

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Noel Coward had the amazing ability to capture social situations in a timeless way so that, even though the play was written 80-odd years ago, you find yourself saying ‘I know someone just like that!’ There is one scene in particular that brought tears of laughter streaming down my face– a couple of the guests have been left alone to entertain themselves in the sitting room. They have never met before, nor appear to have much in common (one is a diplomat, the other a young flapper). There follows a series of excruciating exchanges of small talk, interspersed by long pauses of silence as they struggle to find an opening for conversation. Well- the number of times I’ve found myself in that situation! And they played it brilliantly.

If you’re in London, and have the chance to go, I highly recommend it.

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