Review by Danny Gaisin
A successful Noel Coward play and Cynthia Dale in a drawing room comedy; what could miss? How about the over-effeminizing of all the characters; even the females? How about over-posturing ad absurdum? How about overacting to the point of hamminess? Finally, why did director Alisa Palmer feel it is necessary to sledgehammer the point that families can be dysfunctional? Our nearest seatmate dozed off about 12 minutes after curtain and slept until intermission!
A Family of four in which each has invited a weekend guest without advising any of the others. The guests are also unknown to each other. The potential mating and miss-matching worked in ‘Hotel Peccadillo’ but in this iteration, all we have is nine people annoying one another and this emotion carries over to the audience. What should have been an analysis of parental relationships and inter-generational struggle seems to be merely polite warfare but with Queensbury Rules and according to British social mores. All four ‘Blisses’ are blissfully [sic] unaware of their egotistical attitudes, nor have they any concept of the opinions of the others. The invitees are a mixed bag of Brit society circa 1925.
The head of the family is mom; (Dad is strictly a support character) and Lucy Peacock over dramatizes and postures-about like the faded peacock she’s representing. Even my flaky flapper mother whose histrionics were intrinsic never came close to ‘Judith’. Daughter Sorel is played by Ruby Joy and we can’t seem to discover what makes her tick. Sibling Tyrone Savage who bears a resemblance to the late Elvis comes close to being representative of the spoiled son syndrome. Miss Dale shines as she interprets the poised and cool ‘Myra’, every movement or facial expression defines her character.
Another guest is Richard, a diplomatist, and Sanjay Talwar steals every scene. Imagine Groucho Marx melded with Peter Sellers’ character in “The Party” and one ends up with Sanjay, posture-wise; facially, and with all the expressions and mannerisms intact. The set is spectacular with an overage of details and props. The costumes gorgeous, especially Miss Dale’s who wears them as though they were right out of her own closet.
HAY FEVER runs just over two hours, and is at the AVON Theatre.