Play Reading in English – Hay Fever by Noel Coward
HK English Speaking Union
- Mon 16-11-2015 7:15 PM - 2 h
Hay Fever is Noel Coward’s break-through comedy, written in 1924 when the talented young man was just a struggling actor, brought him overnight recognition. It also proved to be one of his most popular and enduring comedies, and is still regularly performed all over the world today. Recently in 2012 there was revival in the Noel Coward Theatre in London, which celebrated the playwright and his work. It is often described as ‘a comedy of bad manners’, which is a clever reference to the original comedies of manners of earlier centuries, culminating in the witty 19th social comedies of Pinero and Wilde which clearly influenced Coward’s style and subject matter. Hay Fever is set in the hall of the Bliss family home.
The eccentric Blisses — Judith, a recently retired stage actress, David, a self-absorbed novelist, and their two equally unconventional children— live in a world where reality slides easily into fiction. Upon entering this world, the unfortunate weekend guests—a proper diplomat, a shy flapper, an athletic boxer, and a fashionable sophisticate — are repeatedly thrown into melodramatic scenes wherein their hosts profess emotions and react to situations that do not really exist. The resulting comedic chaos ends only when the tortured visitors tip-toe out the door. The play is an inversion of the ‘house-guests from hell’ motif, because here it is the hosts themselves who behave abominably. Coward saw a re-run of the play in the early 1960s, and claimed at the time that he intended only to amuse the audience of his day, and cared little about posterity; nevertheless, he was evidently pleased that the simple dialogue in Hay Fever continued to be well-delivered and well-received half a century after it was first played on the London stage.
Note: In medical terms hay fever is the common name for allergic rhinitis and is caused by an allergic reaction to pollen, resulting in sneezing, runny nose and itchy eyes.. Pollen is a fine powder released by plants as part of their reproductive cycle. If you want to find out why the play is entitled Hay Fever you should come along to the play-reading. All, readers and listeners, are welcome. The event is free, but attendees are requested to buy a drink and/or food at the bar. The Fringe Club makes no charge for us to run this event and this is the least we can do to thank them for their generosity in encouraging us to run the monthly event by providing a free venue for it.
Facilitated by Mike Ingham and Julian Quail