The 2015 Trinity Lawns Play, a production of Noël Coward’s Hay Fever by Megan Slattery, was, in short, fantastic. Set in an English country house during the 1920s, the play traces the inner workings of a comically dysfunctional family as they invite some guests over for the weekend. Full of stereotypes and jokes, this production possessed a charming make-shift quality, marked by its wonderfully playful and energetic acting.
Slattery’s ability as a director is obvious from the very start of the play as the audience is introduced to Sorel (Emily Rose Hana Hill) and Simon Bliss (Charlie Campbell). She craftily juxtaposes Sorel’s character as a confident young woman with the boyish energy and charm of her younger brother, keen, perhaps, to assert his masculinity in an uneasy, female-dominated, environment. The play’s comedy hinges on the fact that the members of the family have managed to invite their own guests without the others knowing, creating a busy and chaotic household of diverse personalities. Indeed, it is precisely in that mix that the play, allowing the various identities to develop, realises its humour. One such personality is that of Mrs. Judith Bliss (Oli Williams), a retired actress who longs to break free from her husband and return to the stage for which her talents are best suited. Williams’ performance was truly excellent. Theatrical, camp and humorous, he almost single-handedly maintained the play’s rhythm, bouncing off the others.
Other performances were equally as impressive. Gregory W-g played the nervous, camp and socially awkward ‘diplomatist’ Richard Greatham very well, while Harriet Bourhill accomplished her role as the sly, posh and devious Myra Arundel with real charm. The droning posh drawl lived up to the stereotype with amazing accuracy. Her interaction with Judith Bliss’ husband, David (Michael Jacobs) and his son, Simon, both of whom are determined to get their hands on her, was very funny indeed. Freddie Hopkinson as Sandy Tyrell, though not a performance which suggested a great deal of acting experience, actually enhanced the play’s enjoyment and entertainment value, giving it an informal and creative edge which was welcome. And if there were any blunders, then it only added to the play’s eccentric chaotic charm and comical effect.
Set in the pleasant surroundings of the gardens at Trinity College, this production of Hay Fever demonstrated a pleasant mix of creativity, humour and conscious theatricality. In the end, it was a fantastic choice for a student summer production, expertly directed and impressively executed.
Hay Fever was performed at Trinity College from 3rd-6th June.