Hay Fever is one of Noel Coward’s most durable comedies, continuing to delight audiences with its astute observations on family relationships and rivalries. The action takes place in the house of the Bliss family over the course of a weekend. Judith Bliss, a retired actress, her writer husband David, and their two grown-up children, Simon and Sorel, have all privately invited guests for the weekend, unbeknownst to anyone else. As the guests arrive, it becomes clear that it is not them who will be the problem, but the family themselves. Although Judith has supposedly retired from the stage, the nightmare weekend becomes her own private play, and her family become the supporting actors. Over the top and theatrical in their actions, the Bliss family delight in winding each other up and provoking a dramatic reaction from each other. As the weekend wears on, each guest pairs off with the wrong person with dramatic effects. Confused and angered by the strange behaviour of the their hosts, the guests all agree that they must leave straight away. Creeping out of the house, they are unnoticed by the Bliss family who are, once again, engaged in a daft, passionate argument about David’s book. Although it is not packed with as many witty one liners as many of Coward’s plays are, Hay Fever provides a shrewd, farcical look at a dysfunctional family oblivious to their ill-mannered behavior.
Hay Fever guide sections