St Albans’ Company of Ten off to a flyer with Coward’s Hay Fever

THE COMPANY of Ten always aims to get its season of to a flying start with a popular production – and the drama group couldn’t have chosen better than Noel Coward’s Hay Fever.

The play – a typical Coward comedy with subtle undertones about class and manners – attracted a full house on Saturday night and deservedly so.

There is absolutely nothing to object to in Hay Fever – it is a delightful period piece played out on the kind of set the Company of Ten is so good at producing.

The authentic costumes add to the period piquancy and with experienced director Janette MacEwan at the helm, it could not go far wrong.

Hay Fever was Coward’s first play and it focuses on the bohemian Bliss family for whom the expression “no manners” could have been invented.


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Bring into the fray four hapless house guests and the family soon shows itself in its true colours with the inevitable chaos ensuing.

Hay Fever is not laugh-out-loud humour but it requires excellent timing and all the right inflections – and the cast are invariably well on top of it.

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Suzie Major, who is to female comedy roles what fellow Company of Ten performer John Pyke is to such male roles, is the daffy but shrewd matriarch Judith Bliss who switches between the male guests with aplomb, even if they are considerably younger than her.

In her turn Lucy Crick, who is delightful as her daughter Sorel Bliss, mixes and matches her menfolk while her father David and brother Simon – played by Graham Boon and Daniel Robert-Leigh respectively – also play the field.

Jan Haniff is very believable as the worldly Myra Arundel, the only one of the house guests who is any kind of match for the Bliss family, while Sophie Massie as the ingenue Jackie Coryton provides a delicious contrast.

The cast is completed by Tim Siddall as Richard Greatham – invited by Sorel but snagged by Judith – and Andrew Baird as Sandy Tyrell whose plight is the exact opposite. Beverley Robley is the long-suffering housekeeper Clara.

Hay Fever is a good springboard for the rest of the season and audiences are rightly flocking to the Abbey Theatre to see it. The play runs until Saturday and any remaining tickets can be obtained from the box office on 01727 857861 or go to www.abbeytheatre.org.uk

MADELEINE BURTON

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