facebook play-alt chevron-thin-right chevron-thin-left cancel location info chevron-thin-down star-full help-with-circle calendar images mail whatsapp directions_car directions_bike train directions_walk directions_bus close spinner11
# I MISS THEATRE
Are you missing theatre as much as we are? Support us now with Theatre Tokens and see your favourite shows when they reopen.

Hay Fever

First Published 17 April 2008, Last Updated 22 April 2008

It is always an event not to be missed when seven-time Laurence Olivier Award winner Dame Judi Dench takes to the West End stage, and last night was no exception. Among the guests at the press performance of Hay Fever at the Theatre Royal Haymarket were West End legends Bill Kenwright – who is also the show’s co-producer – Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice. Also there was officiallondontheatre.co.uk’s Matthew Amer.

It would be wrong to say that Hay Fever is a production about Judi Dench, but when an actor is so loved and lauded it is hard not to concentrate on their every move. Dench plays retired actress Judith Bliss, a woman whose family are only marginally less theatrical than she is, in this comedy of manners which was rattled out by Noel Coward in just 72 hours.

Melodrama is everywhere within the Bliss family home; barely a word can be spoken without a flourish. The actress mother and novelist father (played by Peter Bowles) have brought up children who love nothing more than exaggerating their emotions and dancing in the limelight. When each family member invites a guest for the weekend, unaware that the rest of the family has done the same, the quartet of newcomers really have no idea what they have let themselves in for, and are subjected to two of possibly the most tortuous days of their lives.

Dench as Bliss rules the stage. Whatever she does – from climbing stairs to warbling a tune at the piano or recounting the thrill of the first night, which last night’s audience of critics particularly enjoyed – effortlessly brings smiles and laughter to the Haymarket’s auditorium. Coward’s script is full of witticisms and biting remarks that the ensemble cast revel in.

Dan Stevens and former Eastender Kim Medcalf play Bliss children Sorel and Simon, who both capably add to the over-dramatic energy of the family, joining their mother in staging pivotal scenes from her career. William Chubb’s Greatham is a spiffing civil servant, and Charles Edwards’s Tyrell is an over-excited lapdog of a fan, while Belinda Lang plays a sashaying Arundel and Olivia Darnley moves between hysterical and petrified with nerves as young flapper Coryton.

As Belinda Lang’s Arundel observes, the Blisses are “a divinely mad family”, though it seems spending an entire weekend with such eccentrics makes them less divine and more maddening. A charades-style parlour game highlights the difference between the two sets of characters, one loving the theatricality, the other embarrassed and not used to the occasion, though appendicitis has never been as funny as it is in this context.

Hay Fever is booking at the Theatre Royal Haymarket until 5 August. 

MA

Share

Sign up

Related articles

If you click through to seat selection (where you'll see either best available or a seating plan), you will be seeing the most up-to-date prices. If this differs from what we've written on the calendar, please bear with us, as those prices will update soon.

We now sell our famous TKTS Booth discounts online here at Official London Theatre.

We are now cancelling all performances up until and including 31 May 2020 to help us process existing bookings whilst we wait for further clarity from the government in terms of when we will be able to reopen.

We are so sorry that in these testing and difficult times you are not able to enjoy the show you have booked for and hope the following helps clarify next steps in respect of your tickets .

There is nothing that you need to do if your performance has been cancelled, but we do ask for your patience.

If you have booked directly with the theatre or show website for an affected performance, please be assured that they will contact you directly to arrange an exchange for a later date, a credit note/voucher or a refund. If you have booked via a ticket agent they will also be in contact with you directly.

We are processing in strict date order of performance, so you are likely to be contacted after the date you were due to go to the theatre. However, we want to reassure you that you will be contacted, and your order will be processed, but please do bear with us.

We’d like to thank everyone who has been patient and kind in dealing with their ticket providers so far and we are sorry that we cannot process your order as quickly as we would like.

Please do not contact your credit card company as that will slow the process down and put an additional burden on our box office and ticket agent teams.

In order for us to serve our audiences the best we can, please do not get in touch with your point of sale if you have booked for performances after 31 May. Please be reassured that if we have to cancel future performances you will be directly contacted by your theatre or ticket provider. Our producers continue to plan for all eventualities dependent on the individual needs of their shows and we will provide further updates on specific shows as and when they become available.

We look forward to welcoming you back into our theatres as soon as we are allowed to resume performances. In the meantime stay safe and healthy.

While theatres are currently closed, various venues and productions are making announcements for their individual shows, including cancellations and rescheduled performances. Please check with the individual shows for details.