In their delightfully funny and entertaining production, The School of Music, Theatre & Dance brings Noël Coward’s comedy Hay Fever, full of eccentric characters, witty dialogue, and intriguing plot, to life. Set in the English countryside during the 1920s, Hay Fever is centered around the Bliss family, Judith, David, Sorel, and Simon, a somewhat bizarre cast of characters who have a very theatrical lifestyle. The play takes place over the course of a weekend, when each member of the Bliss family has invited a romantic interest to stay at the house without telling any of the other family members. Unsurprisingly, numerous misunderstandings and hilariously awkward situations ensue.
One of the best features of the performance was the strength of the cast. Although the portrayals of the Bliss family were all wonderful, Liz Raynes’ portrayal of mother Judith, a retired actress longing for drama and a return to the stage was particularly great. The cohesiveness of the group and the ease with which they interacted with each other created a great family dynamic which let all of the members shine. Not be overlooked though, were the strong portrayals of the four houseguests, Richard, Sandy, Myra, and Jackie. Arguably just as eccentric as the Bliss family, the houseguests’ distinct characters highlighted the outrageousness of the Bliss family and added humor to all aspects of the play.
Although great separately, when the Bliss family and the houseguests came together, the result was spectacular. One such moment was during the second act when after a series of misunderstandings and accidental run-ins by Judith, half of the houseguests find themselves engaged to members of the family, while the other half are being held responsible for breaking up a marriage. As the houseguests look on in horror, Judith alternates from dramatically accusing everyone of hurting her to accepting the turn of events. Matching her theatricality, the rest of the family gets in on the fun and plays along. The highlight of the scene, however, is when, to the confusion of the guests, Judith and the children seamlessly break into a scene from one of Judith’s plays. As the audience roared with laughter and the houseguests cowered in the corner, the Bliss family took center stage and showed just how hilariously outrageous they could be.
Overall, Hay Fever, was a wonderfully entertaining production filled with great acting and lots of laughs. I highly recommend seeing it. Hay Fever runs through Sunday 2/23. Tickets can be purchased at the Michigan League Box Office.