New production of Noël Coward’s blissfully, funny comedy opens at the Theatre Royal Bath as Felicity Kendal and Simon Shepherd star in Hay fever

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First published in Theatre Gazette Series: Photograph of the Author by , arts and what's on editor

NOËL Coward’s hilarious comedy of bad manners, Hay Fever, starring Felicity Kendal and Simon Shepherd, is coming to the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday, August 20 to Saturday, September 6.

The Bliss family – recently-retired Judith, the once glittering star of the London stage; David, an egocentric novelist; and Sorel and Simon, their two Bohemian adult children – are incapable of sharing the spotlight. Unconventional, risqué, and often downright rude, they are everything a respectable English family should not be. When each member of the family invites a guest to their rural retreat, the unassuming visitors are thrown into a living melodrama. Misjudged meetings, secret seductions and scandalous revelations proliferate during one outrageous weekend in Berkshire.

Hay Fever has been a favourite amongst theatregoers ever since it first dazzled London’s West End in 1925, when Marie Tempest starred in the premiere, directed by Noël Coward himself. In 1964, when Hay Fever was staged by the Royal National Theatre – then with Laurence Olivier at the helm and located at London’s Old Vic - it was directed by Noël Coward again, becoming the first play by a living dramatist to be staged at the National.

This production reunites the considerable comic talents of Felicity Kendal and director Lindsay Posner – after their West End triumph in Alan Ayckbourn’s Relatively Speaking last year. One of the UK’s greatest directors of comedy, Lindsay Posner directs Coward for the first time with Hay Fever. He returns to Bath fresh from a string of plaudits for his productions of Noises Off at London’s Old Vic, and Abigail’s Party and Relatively Speaking in the West End; all of which also played the Theatre Royal Bath. He was Associate Director at the Royal Court Theatre from 1987 to 1992, where his production of Death and the Maiden won two Olivier Awards. He has directed many times for the RSC. His numerous West End productions include Butley starring Dominic West; An Ideal Husband starring Samantha Bond and Rachel Stirling; A View from the Bridge starring Ken Stott - nominated for four Olivier Awards, including Best Revival and Best Director.

Hay fever appears at the Theatre Royal Bath from Wednesday, August 20 to Saturday, September 6. Visit www.theatreroyal.org.uk for tickets and more details.

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