A review of WWLT’s “Hay Fever” by John Bellchambers


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Woy Woy Little Theatre brings to a close its 2015 season with Hay Fever, written in 1923 by a 23 year-old Noël Coward and directed in this case by Nigel Stanley. Stanley’s done a good job in keeping his cast moving around the difficult stage and has coaxed excellent performances from his cast of ten – especially Christine Vale as the semi-retired actress Judith Bliss, matriarch of the strange (possibly mad) family – husband David (Colin Turner), son Simon (Ryan Amin) and daughter Sorel (Kimberly Kelly).

Speaking of Kelly, here’s a fireball of talent seemingly capable of any part put before her. One moment (as Sorel) she’s sweet and innocent but her character can change to a fiery display of temper and angst in a flash. A great find for WWLT, while Ryan Amin makes Simon as bohemian as they come and not interested in his surroundings.

I liked the way Colin Turner presented the father – nicely balanced between slightly eccentric and engaging dramatics. The programme says Turner recently moved to the Coast after a few decades on the Gold Coast where he played leads in Private Lives, My Fair Lady, 84 Charing Cross Road and Quartet. Another good additive for Woy Woy.

The weekend guests of the Bliss family are a delight – Jen Mealing has a fun role as Myra Arundel – a comedic part that Jen has no trouble bringing to life on stage, adequately displaying her natural flair and timing for comedy.

Graham Vale takes the role of career diplomat Richard Greatham for an enjoyable ride, portraying the character as a foppish fool who forever holds his flower erect. Young Luke Tyrell (who first trod community theatre boards in the recent Flash Festival) shows heaps of potential for the future with his precise playing of Sandy Tyrell, becaming the character whilst on stage – great job.

Madeleine Stephenson transformed into the shy and confidence-lacking Jackie Coryton who finds herself out of depths in the strange bohemian household.

Then there’s the ‘hired help’ – Clara the maid – Chris Cherry, another WWLT regular and deserving of bigger roles. Clara’s been on the Bliss books for many years and was dresser for Judith for most of her stage career. Cherry plays the part with an engaging tolerance and patience, but isn’t afraid to bring down the houseguests with her sharp tongue.

Finally, a very small but rewarding part for Clarisse Spence as Amy the housemaid.

As usual, the director’s set looks believable and sturdy, passing suitably for the hall of the Blisses’ house in Cookham, south-west of London in the 1920s.

A most enjoyable way to pass two hours in theatre – and as someone once said – Hay Fever is a play not to be sneezed at.

John Bellchambers

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"About the Central Coast" is a FREE monthly ezine, supported by an online blog, that provides readers with a one-stop shop for information and reviews on all their favourite theatre groups, bands and artists on and around the Central Coast. Subscription to the magazine is free; just send an email with SUBSCRIBE in the subject line to about@y7mail.com The magazine is distributed by email on the first Thursday of each month. If you have an event you would like me to promote in the magazine, please send details at least three days prior. Items for the blog may be sent any time.
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