|(Sydney Theatre Company)|
I wondered a bit why a major theatre company would stage Noel Coward's 'Hay Fever' nowadays. Especially in Australia. It is a play of its time (1925) and is based on society people who would have been well known to the audiences then. It is very English in style.
Each of the four members of the Bliss family, unknown to the others, invites a guest to their country home for the same weekend resulting in a comedy of ill manners. It is a premise that could easily be adapted and updated for a 21st century audience.
The play hasn't been updated in this production although the period in which it is set - judging from the clothing of the performers - I believe is left deliberately vague thus enabling the inclusion of an Amy Winehouse song.
Without some awareness of the individuals being parodied a lot of the first Act falls flat as the self absorbed characters engage in idle chatter but the play gathers steam when the farcical elements of the story develop.