Joining Lindsay Duncan (Judith Bliss), Jeremy Northam (Richard Greatham), Kevin R McNally (David Bliss) and Olivia Colman (Myra Arundel) in Howard Davies' production of Noël Coward's Hay Fever are Sam Callis (Sandy Tyrell), Freddie Fox (Simon Bliss), Jenny Galloway (Clara), Amy Morgan (Jackie Coryton) and Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Sorel Bliss).
Running at the Noël Coward Theatre from 9 February – 2 June 2012, Coward's sublime comedy of bad manners has designs by Bunny Christie, lighting by Mark Henderson and sound by Mike Walker. Hay Fever press preview performances are Thursday 23 February at 7pm, Friday 24 February at 7.30pm and Saturday 25 February at 2.30pm and 7.30pm, with reviews embargoed until Monday 27 February 2012. Hay Fever is produced in the West End by Richard Willis, Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.
Judith Bliss, once glittering star of the London stage, now in early retirement, is still enjoying life with more than a little high drama and the occasional big scene. To spice her weekend up, Judith invites a young suitor to join her in the country. However, her novelist husband, David, and her two eccentric children, Simon and Sorel, have had the same idea for themselves and any hope for private flirtation disappears as the family's guests begin to arrive. Misjudged meetings, secret seductions and scandalous revelations all run riot at the most outrageous of all house parties.
In 1920 Noël Coward made his stage debut at what was then known as the New Theatre in his own first play, I'll Leave It To You. In 1973 the theatre was renamed the Albery and subsequently, in 2001, Lindsay Duncan and Alan Rickman played Amanda and Elyot in Coward's Private Lives to great critical acclaim. In June 2006 the theatre was renamed once again as the Noël Coward Theatre when the building underwent major refurbishment. This included the naming of the two principal dressing rooms as Noël and Gertie, the latter being Coward's favourite leading lady, Gertrude Lawrence.
Playwright, composer, director and actor, Noël Coward, wrote Hay Fever in 1924 and it was first produced a year later at the Ambassadors Theatre. Coward wrote over 50 plays during his career including Private Lives, Design for Living, Present Laughter, Blithe Spirit and Hay Fever. His many compositions include Mad Dogs and Englishmen, A Room with a View and Mrs Worthington, and his film credits include Brief Encounter, The Vortex and The Italian Job. Coward was knighted in 1970.
Double Olivier award-winner Lindsay Duncan has worked extensively for The National Theatre where her credits include Plenty, The Homecoming and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and for the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions including A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. In the West End she has been seen in The Cryptogram, That Face and Noël Coward's Private Lives. For the Royal Court her credits include the original production of Top Girls as well as Ashes to Ashes and Mouth to Mouth. For The Almeida Theatre her credits include Celebration and The Room. On television she has recently appeared as Alex Cairns in Black Mirror – The National Anthem and The Duchess of York in Rupert Goold's Richard II. Her other television credits also include White Heat, Dr Who and the title role in Margaret; as well as Lost in Austen, Longford, Rome, Shooting the Past, Perfect Strangers, The Rector's Wife, A Year in Provence, GBH and Traffik. Her film credits include Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland, Starter For Ten, Mansfield Park, An Ideal Husband and Prick Up Your Ears.