Coward’s talent to amuse and Yorke’s stylish embrace of her role provide a very entertaining evening: a good choice for the opening show of OLT’s 100th season.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Community Theatre

hay7

Zoe Tupling  and Penu Chalykoff. Photo: Alan Dean

Being part of the melodramatically inclined Bliss family may be alternately divine or tragic. Being a guest in the Bliss country house is simply a nightmare.

The stark contrast between the Bliss family’s theatricality and the more normal approach to social interaction of the guests is at the heart of Noel Coward’s 1925 comedy of manners/verging on farce.

Coward was inspired to write Hay Fever — it took him just three days in 1924 — after visiting the home of U.S. stage and silent movie queen Laurette Taylor. (The script apparently marked the end of their friendship.)

Always considered primarily a vehicle for the actress playing Judith Bliss with her children, Sorel and Simon, and husband, David, in the supporting roles in whichever mini-drama she creates, Hay Fever is heavily dependent on the star’s performance.

As Judith in the current Ottawa Little Theatre production, Dianna Renee Yorke more than rises to the challenge of delivering a delightful portrait of the flamboyant matriarch. Fluid movement, appropriately overstated gestures and great comic timing deliver a…um…blissful Judith.

While the remaining members of the cast have a clear idea of the demands of their characterizations, they generally appear less at ease either as members of the Bliss family or as the ill-fated guests.

Set designer Margaret Coderre Williams creates a fitting ambience for the Bliss country house and director Tim Ginley ensures an appropriate tone, despite forcing his actors to attempt some gratingly awkward English accents. (You might say that these false-sounding accents are enough to give you a case of allergic rhinitis.)

In general, however, Coward’s talent to amuse and Yorke’s stylish embrace of her role provide a very entertaining evening of theatre and a good choice for the opening show of OLT’s 100th season.

Director: Tim Ginley

Set: Margaret Coderre Williams

Lighting: David Magladry

Sound: Lindsay Wilson

Costumes: Monica Browness

Cast:

Sorel Bliss…………………………………………..Katie Volkers

Simon Bliss…………………………………………Jeremy Plamonte

Judith Bliss…………………………………………Dianna Renee Yorke

David Bliss…………………………………………Klaas Van Weringh

Clara………………………………………………..Gail Jo Malloy

Myra Arundel………………………………………Zoe Tupling

Sandy Tyrell………………………………………..Andrew Stewart

Richard Greatham…………………………………..Penu Chalykoff

Jackie Coryton………………………………………Katie Kaufman

One Response to “Coward’s talent to amuse and Yorke’s stylish embrace of her role provide a very entertaining evening: a good choice for the opening show of OLT’s 100th season.”


Past Reviews