St. Marys theater season kicks off with Noel Cowards Hay Fever. From left to right: Lisa Davidson, Maxwell Heaton, and Briana Manente. (Photo: Bill Wood)
ST. MARYS CITY, Md. (September 29, 2010)St. Marys College of Marylands theater season kicks off Oct. 14 with Noel Cowards witty comedy of manners Hay Fever. Directed by faculty member and award-winning actor Michael Ellis-Tolaydo, the play centers around a wacky weekend at the English home of the flamboyantand blissfulBlisses.
Like many of Coward's comedies set among the English bourgeoisie, including Broadway shows Fallen Angels, Private Lives, and Design for Living, Hay Fever epitomizes the wit and sophistication of Cowards plays. Its about a family, Ellis-Tolaydo said, but no ordinary family, the Bliss family, whose eccentricities and theatrical excesses turn an innocent weekend get-together into laugh-out-loud comedic chaos.
Hay Fever is set in the hall of the Bliss family home, where we meet Judith (Briana Manente 12), a recently retired stage actress; David (Tobias Franzén 13), her would-be novelist husband; and the alliterative Sorel (Lisa Davidson 12) and Simon (Max Heaton 12), their two equally unconventional and self-absorbed children. The Blisses live in a world where fiction easily substitutes for reality, and where their unfortunate weekend guests - a diplomat (Jonathan Wagner 12), a flapper (Naomi Garcia 14), a boxer (Nick Huber 13), and a fashionable sophisticate (Emily Moore 13) - are repeatedly thrown into melodramatic scenes where the Blisses over-emote and, with characteristic theatrical flourish, over-react to situations that do not really exist. The resulting chaos ends only when the tortured visitors tip-toe out the door one-by-one, with our unsuspecting hosts none the wiser.
Former New York Times theater critic Frank Rich summed up Cowards mass appeal: [While] some plays defy the laws of theatrical gravity, Coward demonstrates that pure fluff also rises.
Performances are at 8 p.m. Oct. 14-16 and Oct. 21-23, and at 2 p.m. Oct. 17 & 24, in the Bruce Davis Theater in Montgomery Hall. The audience is invited to talk with the cast and director after the Oct. 21 performance. Tickets are $6 for general admission. Call 240-895-4243 for reservations or go to
. Free parking is within walking distance of the theater.