Hay Fever



  • A comedy by Noël Coward. It opened in 1925 in London, where it ran simultaneously with three other Coward plays (FallenAngels, On with the Dance, and The Vortex), thusequalling the record set by Somerset Maugham. Coward commented: "Everyone but Somerset Maugham said I was a second Somerset Maugham."

    The play is set in the country house of Judith Bliss, a fading actresswho has invited a fan to stay for the weekend. Unknown to her, three othermembers of her eccentric family have also invited guests - a diplomat,a giggling flapper, and a vamp. The hosts' unconventional treatment of their ill-assorted guests results in their hasty departure the following day.

    Kenneth Tynan, who revived Hay Fever for the NationalTheatre in 1964, was walking through Mayfair one day when a Rolls pulled up beside him; Coward wound down the window and drawled: "Bless you, dear boy, for admitting that I'm a classic."

    At rehearsals, Dame Edith Evans kept expanding the line "Ona clear day you can see Marlow" to "On a very clear day you can see Marlow." Coward eventually interrupted: "Edith, on a very clear day you can see Marlowe and Beaumont and Fletcher."

    In 1968, as another revival was planned, Coward wrote in his diary, "Good old Hay Fever certainly has been a good friend. Written and conceived in exactly three days ... What a profitable weekend that was."