Following a successful run at the Theatre Royal Bath and a subsequent tour last year that included Australia, Noel Coward’s Classic comedy Hay Fever returned to the West End with Felicity Kendal in the lead role of Judith Bliss the thespian matriarch of the dysfunctional Bliss family at London’s Duke of York’s Theatre.
I loved Jane Shilling’s description in the Daily Telegraph, “her performance is a positive mille-feuille of theatricality, fading sexual allure and suppressed rage, spun around a cone of pathos.”
Apparently ‘mille-feuille’ – the classic French pastry – is having a resurgence across the UK. It’s the culinary ‘in thing’, hence the analogy… I guess.
After a splendid stage and screen career spanning 45 years, audiences and critics alike have never lost their appetite for one of Britain’s most popular performers.
Quentin Letts gave the production five stars in his Daily Mail review, stating “From the moment Miss Kendal steps through the French windows from the garden (where Judith has been trying to learn flower names) this show is a winner.”
Felicity signed this ‘Judith sketch’ I did going into the theatre for last Saturday’s matinee. As usual she was engaging, discussing the wonderful summer weather. A fellow cast member walked by and said, “wow!” referring to the drawing (I think) and Felicity said “I know!”. Hay Fever is scheduled to run until 1 August 2015.
Described by the Guardian as “two hours of continuous laughter,” this beautifully crafted and charmingly English play was Ayckbourn’s first great West End success, opening at the Duke of York’s in 1967. Its theme of middle class marital misery and the mistaken identity gag became his speciality.
Greg (Bennett) and Ginny (Tointon) only met a month ago, but he has made up his mind that she’s the one for him. She tells him that she’s off for a weekend at her parents. He finds a scribbled address and decides to surprise her and ask her father for his daughter’s hand.
Sheila (Kendal) and Philip (Coy) are enjoying a peaceful Sunday morning breakfast interrupted by the two visitors. The only thing – they’re not Ginny’s parents…
All four cast members are a delight, on and off the stage. They happily signed my sketch after Friday night’s performance.