Noel Coward’s characteristically exquisite dialogue has been raising scandalised laughter for almost a hundred years, and will now be brought to life in Melbourne Theatre Company’s new production of Hay Fever at the Southbank Theatre from 23 September 2017.
Although decidedly odd, the Bliss family can be perfectly charming when they want to be. Although it is indubitably true that Judith, a retired actress, tends towards melodrama in her everyday affairs, and her husband, David, a novelist, can be rather reclusive and foul tempered.
Their grown-up children, Simon and Sorel, are quite capable of civility – if it suits them. It is just that, on this blighted weekend, each has invited a guest to stay at their house in the country without telling any of the others. So dashed inconsiderate! And for their poor guests, perfect agony!
With award-winning director Lee Lewis at the helm, Noël Coward’s top-drawer comedy of bad manners features stage luminaries Marina Prior (Hello Dolly!) and Simon Gleeson (Les Misérables) – who lead an irresistible cast including Gareth Davies (The Cherry Orchard), Marg Downey (Top of the Lake: China Girl), Kim Gyngell (Top of the Lake: China Girl), Alexandra Keddie (Offspring), Imogen Sage (Rebecca), Monica Sayers (Chimerica) and Drew Weston (The Rocky Horror Show).
“I’m thoroughly excited to leap into the world of Noël Coward with this first-class cast and creative team,” says Lewis. “The most wonderful thing about delving into a period piece is being immersed in the fashions, speech and concerns of a particular era, yet still finding traces of ourselves in the work. This will be a suitably luscious depiction of Coward’s 1920s, and I can’t wait for audiences to experience it.”
As a writer, composer, director, actor and singer, Noël Coward (1899-1973) was renowned for his wit, flamboyance and chic style. His prodigious output spanned six decades including more than fifty plays, some of which have been adapted for the screen, and more than three hundred songs.
He started writing in his teens and was an overnight sensation with his play The Vortex. By the thirties, he was famous on both sides of the Atlantic. Many of his works including Hay Fever, Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter and Blithe Spirit have endured as theatre classics. He was knighted in 1970 and the following year received a Tony Award for distinguished achievement in theatre.
Director: Lee Lewis Featuring: Gareth Davies, Marg Downey, Simon Gleeson, Kim Gyngell, Alexandra Keddie, Marina Prior, Imogen Sage, Monica Sayers, Drew Weston Lighting Designer: Paul Jackson Set Designer: Christina Smith Costume Designer: Esther Marie Hayes Composer and Sound Designer: Kelly Ryall Voice and Dialect Coach: Geraldine Cook-Dafner Assistant Director: Prue Clark
The Sumner – Southbank Theatre, Southbank Boulevard, Southbank
Season: 28 September – 28 October 2017 (previews: 23 – 27 September)
Information and Bookings: www.mtc.com.au
Image: Marina Prior stars in Hay Fever (supplied)