By Mark Shenton
14 Oct 2011
Hay Fever will be directed by Howard Davies, who previously directed Duncan in Coward's Private Lives in 2001 at the same address (when it was still the Albery), before it subsequently transferred to Broadway, as well as the original London and Broadway runs of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Also in the cast are Kevin McNally and Olivia Colman. Further casting is still to be announced.
It is produced in the West End by Richard Willis, Matthew Byam Shaw for Playful Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions.
In a press statement, Cameron Mackintosh, who owns the theatre, commented, "I’m delighted to be able to have our first Coward play at the theatre since it was renamed after The Master. Truly one of Noël’s masterpieces, Hay Fever promises to be as great an evening at this theatre as Howard Davies' Private Lives a few years ago, also starring the delicious Lindsay Duncan. I am also delighted to welcome to the salon of the Prince of Wales Theatre, Noël’s beloved grand piano on which he composed so many of his wonderful songs. His talent to amuse lives on forever."
In the play, written in 1924 and premiered at London's Ambasadors Theatre the following year, Judith Bliss (Duncan), 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 younger suitor (Northam) to join her in the country. However, her novelist husband, David (McNally), 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 duly follow.
Duncan, a two-time Laurence Olivier Award winner, has worked extensively for both the National and RSC, including productions of Plenty, The Homecoming and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at the former and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Her Royal Court credits include the original production of Top Girls, Ashes to Ashes, Mouth to Mouth and That Face (the latter two both transferred to the West End), and at the Almeida she has appeared in Celebration and The Room. TV credits include "Black Mirror – The National Anthem," "White Heat," "Dr. Who" and "Lost in Austen."
Northam, who plays Richard Greatham, was most recently on stage at the Donmar Warehouse in Old Times. Other theatre credits include Love's Labour’s Lost and The Country Wife for the Royal Shakespeare Company, Certain Young Men for the Almeida Theatre and The Voysey Inheritance at the National Theatre. He has most recently been seen on television in Stephen Poliakoff's "Glorious 39" and as Thomas Moore in "The Tudors." Film credits include "Gosford Park," "The Winslow Boy," "An Ideal Husband," "Happy Texas," "Possession," "Emma," "The Net" and "Carrington."
McNally, who plays David Bliss, was most recently seen in the Donmar Warehouse productions of Hamlet and Ivanov, both at Wyndham's Theatre. Other credits include Boeing Boeing, The Lady in the Van and Dead Funny. TV credits include "Downton Abbey," "New Tricks," "Life On Mars" and "Spooks."
Colman, who plays Myra Arundel, was seen in England People Very Nice at the National and A Long Day's Journey into Night at the Lyric Theatre. Film credits include "The Iron Lady," "Hyde Park on Hudson," "Tyrannosaur" and "Hot Fuzz." On TV she is best known for playing Sophie Chapman in the "Peep Show" series and Harriet Schulenburg in "Green Wing."
Director Howard Davies is an associate director at the National Theatre where recent productions include The Cherry Orchard, The White Guard, Burnt by the Sun, The Talking Cure, Flight, Present Laughter and Mourning Becomes Electra. West End credits include All My Sons and The Breath of Life. Broadway credits include A Moon for the Misbegotten, The Iceman Cometh, My Fair Lady, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof and Les Liaisons Dangereuses.
To book tickets, on sale through June 2, contact the box office on 0844 482 5140, or visit www.hayfeverlondon.com.