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Hay Fever: A Play in Three Acts Paperback – August 25, 2014

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Samuel French, Inc.; Acting ed edition (August 25, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0573610045
  • ISBN-13: 978-0573610042
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #773,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


'No one in modern English comedy boasts a more seductively comic or escapist approach to life than the self-absorbed family in Noel Coward's Hay Fever... Coward celebrates the value, enchantment and absurdity of escaping from life into theatrics.' Nicholas de Jongh, Evening Standard, 17.4.09 'Coward's Hay Fever, like the allergy, is always with us.' Michael Billington, Guardian, 17.4.09 'Hay Fever...was written in a spirit as fresh and cutting as new-mown lawn. It's an affectionate and arch portrait of Berkshire bohemians behaving badly. Politeness and Restraint are not this play's middle names.' Dominic Cavendish, Daily Telegraph, 17.4.09 'Coward's paradoxical plot hilariously exposes the guests good manners as a mask for hiprocrisy and the artifices of the family as the true expression of sincerely genuine natures.' Clare Brennan, Observer, 27.06.10 'This hectically Bohemian family, "artificial to the point of lunacy" in the memorable words of one of their hapless house guests, is among Noel Coward's strongest creations and has enjoyed star-studded outings since its 1925 debut.' Fiona Mountford, Evening Standard (London), 29.9.10 'This comedy of bad manners, in which a family of insufferably self-regarding bohemians treat their more conventional guests with abominable rudeness at a weekend house party' Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 29.9.10 'There is a splendid clipped precision about Coward's dialogue, and the constant realisation that the characters are actually thinking very different things from the banal platitudes they actually utter.' Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph, 29.9.10 'It's a beautifully constructed play' Jeremy Kingston, The Times, 30.9.10 It was 'written by the playwright over a single weekend in 1921. It proved a highly profitable weekend for Coward' Lyn Gardner, Guardian, 1.10.10 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Noel Coward is considered one of England's most celebrated playwrights. The author of "Blithe Spirit," "Hay Fever," "Fallen Angels," "Present Laughter," "Private Lives," (all available from LA Theatre Works) and many other popular plays, 1999 marks the centennial of Coward's birth. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on March 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
Written when Coward was only twenty-four, and produced shortly after, in 1925, Hay Fever is a broad, manic farce which takes place in the country house of a self-absorbed, artistic family. The Blisses, each of whom is creative and spontaneous, ignore the stultifying conventions of society--Judith, an extravagant stage actress, who pursues her own whims whenever it pleases her; her husband David, an author, who enjoys his own spotlight and camp-followers; and their adult children, Simon and Sorel. When Sorel announces that she has invited a weekend guest and would like to be able to use "the Japanese room," she quickly discovers that each of the other family members has also invited a guest for "the Japanese room."

In the course of the weekend, all the guests--conventional people attracted by the exciting lives these non-conformists have created for themselves--find themselves at the mercy of their more confident and assertive hosts. Guests who arrive thinking themselves in love with one person find themselves unexpectedly engaged to marry someone else. No one listens to them, no one recognizes them as individuals, and no one cares about their dashed expectations. As the Bliss family controls the activity during the weekend, the farce borders on absurdity. Outrageous scenes and emotional confrontations, part of their "normal" lives, prove too much for their guests.

The fast-paced interaction one sees on stage constitutes the only "plot," and there are no background stories to add complexity. What you see is obvious--what Coward has intended you to see.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gary F. Taylor HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 18, 2005
Format: Paperback
Noel Coward (1899-1973) is best recalled for his sparkling yet acid-etched comedies, and the 1925 HAY FEVER is among the best, easily ranking alongside such titles as BLITHE SPIRIT, DESIGN FOR LIVING, and PRIVATE LIVES. Among his earlier successes, Coward received inspiration for the play when he visited the home of the great American actress Laurelette Taylor--and found both her and her family shockingly eccentric in an unexpectedly theatrical way.

Unlike most other Coward scripts, HAY FEVER relies less on plot and Coward's talent for sharp wit than it does upon character. Judith, directly based on Laurelette Taylor, is the lynchpin of the piece: recently retired from the stage, she is an intensely theatrical woman who enjoys dramatizing her life. She has invited a much younger man to be a weekend guest, never dreaming that her husband David, son Simon, and daughter Sorrel have each invited a guest as well.

The four guests soon discover that the maid is down with a toothache, there aren't enough rooms, and there is scarcely enough food to go around. To make matters worse, Judith plays every scene that presents itself. It is a habit in which she is not alone; her novelist husband and their two children are every bit as adept at theatrical hysteria as she, and before the weekend concludes the guests are treated to astonshing exhibitions that alternately annoy, confuse, and frighten them out of their wits.

Plays are written to be performed, not read, and HAY FEVER is a good example of the difficulties that can arise when a non-theatre person tries to visualize how it would be on the stage. On the page, it reads as clever and amusing, but only mildly so; on the stage, however, it is easily one of the most hilarious comedies of the 20th Century. Recommended for those who have the imagination required!

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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By AskAnnette on June 1, 2012
Format: Audio Cassette Verified Purchase
I haven't played this yet but it arrived in good condition thanks. It's a great play and I enjoy most of Noel Coward. Again I was learning the play so wanted to have a cassette series on hand.
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By Joe Hart on February 16, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I think the English accents on this (and another) LA Theater Works show are fake, they especially sound it in this. But the acting itself was so good, I got used to it. I almost didn't buy this, new to me and a reviewer said there were no witty lines in it, just a farcical situation. I don't like that kind of comedy. However, he must have meant Noel Coward's other "Hay Fever" because this one was alive with funny lines, very funny lines. I loved it. And I thought the acting was exceptionally good. Without looking it up, I think Eric Stoltz played Paul in LATW's production of Simon's "Barefoot in the Park". If that is so, somebody's accent was fake! Frankly, am glad I have "Blithe Spirit" with an English cast (not LATW). I recommend this if you like Coward. Of course, this is the only version of "Hay Fever" (except a local little theater production which was lousy) I've ever heard. So I'm like Frederick in "Pirates of Penzance" choosing a wife.
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