Hay Fever, the final play of Hampton Theatre Company’s 30th anniversary season, is now being staged in Quogue.
The Noel Coward classic, a comedy of British bad manners written in just three days, was inspired by a weekend spent at the home of the actress Laurent Taylor.
Debuting in London in 1925 when Coward was 25, the madcap comedy won praise from both audiences and critics, who hailed it as funny, bright and cruel—all the attributes that later solidified Coward’s reputation as a brilliant playwright.
Hay Fever revolves around the four members of the eccentric and bohemian Bliss family, each of whom, without consulting the others, has invited a guest of the opposite sex to spend the weekend at their home in Cookham, 30 miles west of London. No sooner have all the guests arrived than any hopes of a pleasant weekend in the country are dashed by the self-involved romantic overtures and comically melodramatic misbehavior of their hosts.
“It is wonderfully appropriate that our 30th anniversary season is ending on a note of high comedy featuring three actors who were with the company in our first two seasons—Rosemary Cline, Andrew Botsford, and Diana Marbury—and another actor, Matt Conlon, whose involvement with the HTC dates back to the early 1990s,” said Hampton Theatre Company Executive Director Sarah Hunnewell.
Rosemary Cline, who has appeared in more than 30 of the company’s productions, plays Judith Bliss, a “rusticating” retired stage actress who finds country life in the role of “the squire’s wife” very boring indeed. Andrew Botsford, a veteran with more than 40 HTC productions to his credit, plays David Bliss, her self-absorbed novelist husband.
In addition to directing the production and providing the set décor, Hampton Theatre Company Artistic Director Diana Marbury also plays the role of Clara, Judith’s longtime dresser turned housekeeper, cook, and butler all in one.
Matt Conlon, who had principal roles in Harvey and Clybourne Park this season, plays the straitlaced diplomatist Richard Greatham, invited for the weekend by Sorel Bliss and quickly caught up in the family’s machinations.
Jane Cortney, who made her debut with the HTC in How the Other Half Loves in 2013, plays the divorcée Myra Arundel, who has been invited by Simon Bliss but possibly has her sights set on his father, David. Amanda Griemsmann, who first appeared with the company in last fall’s production of Harvey, has the role of Jackie Coryton, a painfully shy and out of her depth flapper who has been invited by David Bliss so he can study her in “domestic surroundings.”
The bohemian and adorably ghastly Bliss offspring—daughter Sorel and son Simon—are played by newcomers to the company, Gabriella Campagna and Robert Peterson. Judith’s guest, the boxer and up-for-anything Sandy Tyrell, is played by another newcomer, Anthony Famulari.
Marbury’s most recent directing credits with the company include Harvey, God of Carnage and How The Other Half Loves. The set design for Hay Fever is by Peter-Tolin Baker; lighting is by Sebastian Paczynski; and costumes by Teresa LeBrun.
Hay Fever opened on May 21 and runs through June 7 at the Quogue Community Hall on Jessup Avenue. Showtimes are Thursdays and Fridays at 7 p.m., Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. For tickets, visit hamptontheatre.org, call 1-866-811-4111, or come to the box office a half-hour before curtain. $25 for general admission, $23 for seniors (excluding Saturdays) and $10 for students.