Article: Hay Fever

For hay fever, the allergy, see Hay fever.


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2006 Theatre Royal, Haymarket production (C) Bill Kenwright Ltd.

Hay Fever is a comic play written by Noel Coward in 1924 and first produced in 1925 with Marie Tempest as the first Judith Bliss. Best described as a cross between high farce and a comedy of manners, the play is set in a British country house in the 1920s, and deals with the four eccentric members of the Bliss family and their outlandish behaviour when they each invite a guest to spend the weekend. The self-centred behaviour of the hosts finally drives their guests to flee while the Blisses are so engaged in a family row that they do not notice their guests' furtive departure.

Following on from the success of his earlier play The Vortex, Hay Fever was an enormous hit on the West End stage and has been revived countless times around the world since then. It was the 1964 Royal National Theatre production of Hay Fever, starring Edith Evans and Maggie Smith with Coward himself directing, which sparked the revival of interest in his work toward the end of his life.

First production, Ambassadors Theatre, London, 1925
Sorel Bliss – Helen Spencer
Simon Bliss – Robert Andrews
Clara – Minnie Rayner
Judith Bliss – Marie Tempest
David Bliss – W Graham Browne
Sandy Tyrell – Patrick Susands
Myra Arundel – Hilda Moore
Richard Greatham – Athole Stewart
Jackie Coryton – Ann Trevor

New York, Maxine Elliott's Theater, 1925
Sorel Bliss – Frieda Inescort
Simon Bliss – Gavin Muir
Clara – Alice Belmore Cliffe
Judith Bliss – Laura Hope Crews
David Bliss – Harry Davenport
Sandy Tyrell – Reginald Sheffield
Myra Arundel – Phyllis Joyce
Richard Greatham – George Thorpe
Jackie Coryton – Margot Lester

New York, Avon Theater, 1931
Sorel Bliss – Betty Linley
Simon Bliss – Anthony Kemble Cooper
Clara – Alice Belmore Cliffe
Judith Bliss – Constance Collier
David Bliss – Eric Cowley
Sandy Tyrell – Terence Neill
Myra Arundel – Julia Hoyt
Richard Greatham – Edward Cooper
Jackie Coryton – Valerie Cossart

A UK television production in 1960 featured Edith Evans as Judith Bliss and Maggie Smith as Myra Arundel. They later played these roles on stage under the author’s direction in the celebrated National Theatre revival in 1964 (see below). Other members of the television cast were Pamela Brown, George Devine, Paul Eddington and Richard Wattis.

London, National Theatre (Old Vic), 1964
Sorel Bliss: Louise Purnell
Simon Bliss: Derek Jacobi
Clara: Barbara Hicks
Judith Bliss: Edith Evans
David Bliss: Anthony Nicholls
Sandy Tyrell: Robert Stephens
Myra Arundel: Maggie Smith
Richard Greatham: Robert Lang
Jackie Coryton: Lynn Redgrave

A further UK television production in 1968 had the following cast:
Sorel Bliss – Lucy Fleming
Simon Bliss – Ian McKellen
Clara – Hazel Hughes
Judith Bliss – Celia Johnson
David Bliss – Dennis Price
Sandy Tyrell – Richard Briers
Myra Arundel – Anna Massey
Richard Greatham – Charles Gray
Jackie Coryton – Vickery Turner

New York, Helen Hayes Theater, 1970
Sorel Bliss – Roberta Maxwell
Simon Bliss – Sam Waterston
Clara – Sudie Bond
Judith Bliss – Shirley Booth
David Bliss – John Williams
Sandy Tyrell – John Tillinger
Myra Arundel – Marian Mercer
Richard Greatham – Michael McGuire
Jackie Coryton – Carole Shelley

New York, Music Box Theater, 1985
Sorel Bliss – Mia Dillon
Simon Bliss – Robert Joy
Clara – Barbara Bryne
Judith Bliss – Rosemary Harris
David Bliss – Roy Dotrice
Sandy Tyrell – Campbell Scott
Myra Arundel – Carolyn Seymour
Richard Greatham – Charles Kimbrough
Jackie Coryton – Deborah Rush

London, Albery Theatre, 1992
Sorel Bliss – Abigail Cruttenden
Simon Bliss – Nick Waring
Clara – Maria Charles
Judith Bliss – Maria Aitken
David Bliss – John Standing
Sandy Tyrell – Richard Garnett
Myra Arundel – Carmen Du Sautoy
Richard Greatham – Christopher Godwin
Jackie Coryton – Sara Crowe

London, Savoy Theatre, 1999
Sorel Bliss – Monica Dolan
Simon Bliss – Stephen Mangan
Clara – Anne White
Judith Bliss – Geraldine McEwan
David Bliss – Peter Blythe
Sandy Tyrell – Scott Handy
Myra Arundel – Sylvestra Le Touzel
Richard Greatham – Malcolm Sinclair
Jackie Coryton – Cathryn Bradshaw

London, Haymarket Theatre, 2006
Sorel Bliss – Kim Medcalf
Simon Bliss – Dan Stevens
Clara – Lin Blakley
Judith Bliss – Judi Dench
David Bliss – Peter Bowles
Sandy Tyrell – Charles Edwards
Myra Arundel – Belinda Lang
Richard Greatham – William Chubb
Jackie Coryton – Olivia Darnley

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