Hay Fever

When: Thu., May 24, 8 p.m., Fri., May 25, 7:30 p.m., Sat., May 26, 3:30 & 8 p.m., Mon., May 28, 3:30 & 8 p.m., Wed., May 30, 7:30 p.m., Thu., May 31, 3:30 & 8 p.m., Sat., June 2, 8 p.m., Sun., June 3, 3:30 & 8 p.m., Tue., June 5, 7:30 p.m., Wed., June 6, 3:30 & 8 p.m., Fri., June 8, 7:30 p.m., Sat., June 9, 3:30 & 8 p.m. and Sun., June 10, 3:30 p.m. 2012

How very rude: the American connection. Hay Fever is considered a quintessentially British play, but the Bliss family of Hay Fever was actually modeled on a family of Bohemian overachievers from the States. At the Taylors' New York hinterland retreat (just like in the Bliss country house), parties regularly featured outlandish, even bizarre games that seemed uniquely designed for the Taylors' amusement. Odds of surviving a weekend at their house with dignity intact? Iffy.

Ignorance is (the) Bliss (family). Playwright Noël Coward lovingly described his comic muse, Laurette Taylor, as "naïve, intolerant, lovable, and entirely devoid of tact." By her own admission, Laurette divided people into two groups: the talented and "the others." Taylor and her family weren't the only ones in Coward's circle having fun at each other's expense — but they may have been tops in their class.

No plot? No problem! Coward said of this play, "[Hay Fever] has certainly proved to be a great joy to amateurs, owing, I suppose, to the smallness of cast, and the fact that it has only one set, which must lead them, poor dears, to imagine that it is easy to act. This species of delusion being common to amateurs all over the world ..." Coward thought it was a very demanding play and attributed much of the success of its first production to his cast — actors so talented, in his estimation, that "they could have played the Albanian telephone directory."

Jon Santiago

Price: $25-$85


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