Hay Fever, the first of Noël Coward’s plays to be performed at the Noël Coward Theatre since it was renamed after the playwright in 2006, has a cast led by Lindsay Duncan (Judith Bliss), Jeremy Northam (Richard Greatham), Kevin R McNally (David Bliss) and Olivia Colman (Myra Arundel). They are joined by Sam Callis (Sandy Tyrell), Freddie Fox (Simon Bliss), Jenny Galloway (Clara), Amy Morgan (Jackie Coryton) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Sorel Bliss).
Judith Bliss, once glittering star of the London stage, now in early retirement, is still enjoying life with more than a little high drama and the occasional big scene. To spice her weekend up, Judith invites a young suitor to join her in the country. However, her novelist husband, David, and her two eccentric children, Simon and Sorel, have had the same idea for themselves and any hope for private flirtation disappears as the family’s guests begin to arrive. Misjudged meetings, secret seductions and scandalous revelations all run riot at the most outrageous of all house parties.
Hay Fever is produced in the West End by Richard Willis, Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions with designs by Bunny Christie, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mike Walker.
In 1920 Noël Coward made his stage debut at what was then known as the New Theatre in his own first play, I'll Leave It To You. In 1973 the theatre was renamed the Albery and subsequently, in 2001, Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman played Amanda and Elyot in Coward's Private Lives to great critical acclaim. In June 2006 the theatre was renamed once again as the Noël Coward Theatre when the building underwent major refurbishment. This included the naming of the two principal dressing rooms as Noël and Gertie, the latter being Coward’s favourite leading lady, Gertrude Lawrence.
Playwright, composer, director and actor, Noël Coward, wrote Hay Fever in 1924 and it was first produced a year later at the Ambassadors Theatre. Coward wrote over 50 plays during his career including Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit and Hay Fever. His many compositions include Mad Dogs and Englishmen, A Room with a View and Mrs Worthington, and his film credits include Brief Encounter, The Vortex and The Italian Job. Coward was knighted in 1970.
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