Made a last minute decision to see Hay Fever at Stratford. Who can resist a plotless play about a dysfunctional family more into their snapping at each other than they are with their objects of their affection?

picnic family is no picnic

Stratford’s Hay Fever is fun, fast & good looking. The set gets applause when the curtain goes up. It’s clear that the cast is enjoying themselves as they invest their characters with great energy, and, as the script apparently calls for, artificiality. No line goes under-performed.

As much as I enjoyed this over-the-top-ness I found it hard to tell, at points, when or if the characters were being real, or what was ‘important.’ When every line comes across at the same volume they begin to lose emotional content. But perhaps that’s the point – how easy it is to get into that frame of mind one loses perspective.

plates family – the purple plate special

Throughout the play I felt echoes of Chekov’s tragic families, where the disfunction usually leads to unhappiness. Here the disfunction leads to more of the same – they remain unaware of the patter they perpetuate. I also saw in this the roots of Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf: a family who plays emotional games with each other, invites guests into the games – in Hay Fever the guest recognize the pattern and slip out leaving the players still trapped in their game.

postcard  wish your family was here?

As I say the cast is strong. I loved Sarah Orenstein, who brought back, to me, with her constant cigarette, memories of the late, great Jackie Burroughs. A good solid production worth seeing even if it never quite takes flight


out of the 1999 archives:


the weather of me


evening sky

mainly clear

thin fragments of clouds

linger across the face

of the setting sun

red pink amber

the gentle persistent glow

that always returns after the rain

cool enough for comfortable sleep

sunny enough for plant growth

occasionally too hot for more

than a night of restless tumble

with regular winds

to blow the tired city air away

aware that even on those cloudy days

the sun is still shining

wise enough to know that the sun

doesn’t burn with intent


rare dramatic blizzards

infrequent tempests

predictably calm comfortable


a steady driving rain

between the sheets

an eager darting breeze

in conversation with the leaves


not easily affected by

other high or low pressure zones

stable enough to fend off

pressure zones from others

the welcome rain

the comforting sun

a breeze that blows clear and clean

most dusty horizons


a thunderstorm that knows

the clock will still tick

once the storm’s bluster

has died down

tree01 trapped in the family tree


One thought on “#sfHayFever

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