The reviews are in for Guthrie’s ‘Hay Fever’

Noel Coward’s comedy of manners “Hay Fever” – onstage at the Guthrie Theater through April 22 – stars the eccentric Bliss family, and an unsuspecting array of houseguests who have no idea what they’ve gotten themselves into.

Critics will tell you there’s not much of a plot to be had – but no matter, because hysterical melodrama andpregnant pauses will keep you in stitches.

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Cat Walleck (Sorel Bliss), Harriet Harris (Judith Bliss) and John Catron (Sandy Tyrell) in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Hay Fever by Nöel Coward.

Photo by Michael Brosilow

From Ed Huyck at City Pages:

The family takes its 1920s Bohemian lifestyle seriously, to the point that they all are willing to do and say whatever they want–even if that leaves their poor guests twisting in the wind. The entire company dives right into the madness here, wringing comedy out of every awkward moment.

From John Olive at HowWasTheShow.com:

Hay Fever.. belongs to the designers. Enter the Wurtele Thrust and behold – “Wow.” – Janet Bird’s sumptuous, perfectly painted, gorgeously lit (by Philip S. Rosenberg) set. Paintings compete with rough drawings and eccentric props. Murals swirl – enough to draw your attention but never distracting. The floorplan is a wonder; there are a half dozen outstanding theatrical entrance/exits.

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Harriet Harris as Judith Bliss

Photo by Michael Brosilow

From Dominic P. Papatola at the Pioneer Press:

Harriet Harris – who seemed a bit miscast when last seen at the Guthrie as Amanda Wingfield in a 2007 production of “The Glass Menagerie” – is working precisely to her strengths as the eccentric, dramatic matriarch Judith Bliss. Harris looks to be having the time of her life on stage, uttering every word as if it’s a Memorable Line from some other show in which Judith has appeared. She seems to have figured that there is practically no way to overplay the role and lets loose with an enjoyable couple hours of chewing the scenery.

From Ellen Burkhardt at MinnesotaMonthly.com:

Coward wrote Hay Fever such that it accelerates with each act, getting funnier, crazier, more physical, and more ridiculous with each perfectly placed line. As the layers build, the Bliss’s eccentricities are revealed. And as soon as they act “normal,” luring their poor guests into a deceived notion of understanding, it’s just a matter of seconds before they’re back to being as unpredictable as ever. The play is an exhausting exercise in emotion and extremes, but instead of tapering out, the actors all play off one another, putting on an exhilarating and hilarious show–one that will make your odd family look blissfully normal.

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Charity Jones as Myra Arundel and John Skelley as Simon Bliss in the Guthrie Theater’s production of Hay Fever by Nöel Coward

Photo by Michael Brosilow

Have you seen Hay Fever? If so, what did you think? Share your review in the comments section.

  • Steve

    The reviews are right – the show is wonderful. Every character is unique. Lots of laughs from start to finish.

  • John Estrem

    It is difficult to play Cowards play as it should be played but I think Miss Harris nails it. The rest of the cast does well and although some lines were spoken too softly to be heard in the back row yet the humor comes through loud and clear. The set and directing were first rate. You were all the best. Thank you for a wonderful evenings entertainment.