Noël Coward’s Hay Fever – Tacoma Little Play Review – The Suburban Times
Sir NoÃ«l Peirce Coward was an English playwright, composer, director, actor and singer. He was flamboyant and known for his wit, which generally made fun of the upper classes in Britain. His play, Hay Fever, was written in 1924. His target of humor was bad manners and bad behavior. In the play, he uses an egocentric family that thinks only of itself. The last name is Bliss and they are happy to be who they are and not to care about anyone else.
The family consists of a father, a mother and two grown children, who refuse to act like adults. Each of these people invites a guest to their country house without telling the others or the family maid.
Director Rick Hornor directed Steve Martin Picasso’s play at Lapine Agile, or as I call him Picasso at Jumping Bunny. It was one of my favorite Tacoma Little Theater plays. He taught theater at Whitworth University in Spokane. He’s been touring the world from Scotland to Saipan so he knows the people and their sound. In this piece, however, I wish he had toned down the heavily crested English accent of the son (Simon) and daughter (Sorel). I think the audience figured out that both were snotty, but could have been a bit lost in the translation.
The Blake R. York ensemble was a typical York work of art. It looked sturdy, country house and upper class with beams, patio doors, wood paneling and colorful paper flowers (I guess) with hints of creativity by Dale Chihuly, the whole reeked of silver . It gave us a feeling of Japanese art. The characters were talking about a Japanese play, which we have never seen. We didn’t need it, it was already there in our minds. It was just amazing.
The brother and sister of the Bliss family begin production.
Aside from the accent, I enjoyed Rodman Bolek as a son, Simon. Bolek also starred in Hornor’s presentation of Picasso to Lapine Agile. Simon draws charcoal caricatures, much of which is found on his face. He was really happy to be lucky.
Deya Ozburn (Sorel Bliss) was last seen in Blythe Spirit, which was also a play by NoÃ«l Coward. I loved her smooth movement as she led guest Sandy Tyrell by her tie.
Judith Bliss, mother of Simon and Sorel, was played by Jane McKittrick. His accent was subdued and well delivered. She was as flamboyant as Noel Coward, until a line was crossed. I can’t wait to see her without a wig again.
John W. Olive played the father, David Bliss. He was almost a non-entity, coming last of the characters. He previously directed the artistic repertoire of Lakewood Playhouse. TLT and Lakewood Playhouse work well together. I really like the partnership and the âlaissez-faireâ cooperation.
I saw the play with my wife, Peg, and several of our friends. Sunday morning at breakfast we discussed it. Our favorite character and actor was Adrianna Littlejohn; she played the good Clara. In her opening scene, she had a distinct Cockney accent, but faded away. She had a certain attitude, which we assumed could well have come from years of service with the Bliss family. I love the way they spill leftover whiskey. Sometimes you even need comedic relief in a comedy. She added just the right touch.
The play ends with a very funny scene that doesn’t have any real dialogue.
The show runs until the 23rd. NoÃ«l Coward is always good and the TLT productions are always worth it. Buy your tickets online – tix4.centerstageticketing.com/sites/tacomalittletheater/showdates.php?s_id=238