(Charles Spencer’s article appeared in the Telegraph, 2/27.)
What a pleasure to find this cracking production of Coward’s great comedy at the theatre named after him. The playwright described Hay Fever (1925) as “one of the most difficult plays to perform that I have encountered… it has no plot at all, and remarkably little action.”
Yet in Howard Davies’s superbly funny, sharply observant staging, with Lindsay Duncan leading a cast that brings every role to detailed life, the piece proves irresistible. This is a play, like Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, that transforms triviality into comic perfection. And if Coward lacks Wilde’s high epigrammatic style, his clipped, clenched language has proved more influential.