Performing Arts
© Mike Keenan

Stratford Festival
Noël Coward's classic comedy Hay Fever begins previews

Hay Fever - Stratford Festival
Hay Fever - Stratford Festival

Directed by Alisa Palmer at the Avon Theatre, Hay Fever began previews on Wednesday and officially opens on Thursday, June 19.

"Hay Fever reminds me of Seinfeld, a show whose creators, like Coward, pre-empted their own critics by declaring, cheekily, that their show was 'about nothing.' " says Ms Palmer, who is also Artistic Director of the National Theatre School. "Like Hay Fever, it was smart comedy, driven by the absurdity and the passion of relationship, viewed through a markedly unsentimental lens. There are many good plays about family, but few dare to illumine family dynamics as unflinchingly as Coward's does. In this, I find his work arresting and refreshing."

2014 Season - Stratford Festival Featuring Festival favourites Lucy Peacock as Judith Bliss and Cynthia Dale as Myra Arundel, Hay Fever introduces audiences to the Bliss family: a retired actress mother, novelist father, played by Kevin Bundy, and two children, played by Ruby Joy and Tyrone Savage, all prone to their own outrageous eccentricities. The family's self-absorbed antics astound and ultimately exasperate the various guests that each of them has invited to their country house for the weekend. Driven to distraction by a comic maelstrom of rousing fights, fevered flirtations and histrionic role-playing, the guests begin to wonder if they've landed in a madhouse - and if they can survive the weekend with their wits intact.

Within this season's theme of Madness: Minds Pushed to the Edge, Hay Fever can be described as an example of family drama pushed to the extreme.

"Noël Coward gives us a deliciously entertaining and hilarious take on this season's theme," says Artistic Director Antoni Cimolino. "We all know people like the Bliss family - friends who live in their own world, blissfully unconstrained by social norms. As a study of such characters, brought to life by Coward's laser-sharp wit and dialogue, Hay Fever is a perfectly polished, laugh-out-loud production. In the hands of the brilliant Alisa Palmer, who has such a passionate appreciation for Coward's work, this is one night out at the theatre you won't soon forget."

Ms Palmer makes her Stratford debut with this production. Having trained both in Canada and internationally, she has worn many theatrical hats, including those of multiple-award-winning theatre director, playwright, dramaturge and theatre producer. She is currently collaborating on a Festival commission with playwright Ann-Marie MacDonald and Torquil Campbell to develop a modern musical reflection on Hamlet.

Artistic credits include Set Designer Douglas Paraschuk, Costume Designer Dana Osborne, Lighting Designer Steven Hawkins, Sound Designer Richard Feren and Fight Director John Stead.

Avon Theatre
Avon Theatre located at 99 Downie St. Stratford, Ontario

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