Noël Coward's 1920s Comedy of Manners Remains Delightfully Apt

June 5, 2014
four actors in scene from Hay Fever

Spring semester has concluded and summer is on its way—bringing with it more than one kind of hay fever. The Wellesley Summer Theatre Company (WSTC) is inspiring visitors to campus to have a little fun with it.

WSTC’s production of Hay Fever enjoyed a strong opening on May 29, and will run through June 22 in the Ruth Nagel Jones Theatre. This Noël Coward play follows the Bliss family through a summer weekend at their English country home with a motley assortment of guests. As the Blisses’ behavior becomes increasingly outrageous, their guests flee the madness—while the family is too caught up in their own drama to notice.

Director Marta Rainer ’98 believes that the mayhem of the 1920s classic comedy of manners still speaks to a contemporary audience, one used to entertainment that often involves watching people behave badly. As noted in the program’s Director’s Notes, “The Bliss Family Four are iconic bunglers of logic, taste, and hospitality, and would undoubtedly be starring in their own reality TV show if they were here today.”

Rainer’s experience with Wellesley theater can be traced to her time as a student, when she served as president of the student improv group Dead Serious, and she is currently a visiting lecturer in the Department of Theatre Studies. Rainer is an actor, director, published playwright, and teacher. Her most recent show with Wellesley was as director of last’s years Wellesley Summer Theatre production of Dancing at Lughnasa.

She is excited to take on the lighter fare of Hay Fever, yet acknowledges, “Comedy is deceptively challenging, and Coward's language even more so. It takes intelligent actors to pull it off, and I'm terrifically proud of how they all wrestled with its intricacies and demands!”

The talented actors to which Rainer refers include a Wellesley alum and three current students: Sarah Barton ’02 (profiled recently in the Metrowest Daily News), Angela Bilkic ’15, Catherine Piner ’16, and Elisabeth Yancey ’16. The cast of nine is completed with acclaimed local actors, appearing courtesy of Actor’s Equity.

Tickets are $20 general admission, $10 for seniors and students. To reserve, call 781.283.2000, email Guests are also invited to visit for show times and information on upcoming shows, including the Wellesley Summer Theatre for Children production of Wind in the Willows, June 21-22.