Off to The Rose to see a bitty production of Hay Fever by Noel Coward which unfortunately just didn't seem to hang together. The Rose, three years on, is still searching for a clear identity and has the mood of a place that doesn't much care whether it finds one or not. It's a shame because the theatre itself is wonderful but the programming remains uninspired, the audiences remain grudging and it all feels like a bit of a sulk. Perhaps it's the layout which requires you to slip rather surreptitiously round the side of the auditorium before you arrive at the de stressed urban chic bar? Perhaps its the staff who give you the impression that you're lucky to be allowed in? Perhaps its lonely and simply needs more friends? Whatever the reason I've yet to have a really good night out there.
Hay Fever had some good performances Adrian Lukis pitch perfect as Richard Greatham and Josh McGuire full of attack and energy as spoilt brat Simon Bliss. If anything it was the more established actors Celia Imrie, Stephen Boxer, Alexander Galbraith who seemed to be off the beat and overall it felt as though for all their talent and tricks that this was a company pulling the piece in different directions.
It's an odd play though - a substandard Oscar Wilde - with none of the rapier wit and saved only by some clever moments of muck about. I'm not sure it needed a revival. The design, a carefully reconstructed country house, full of clutter and detail, looked wonderful, but filled the wide epic stage rather than setting a tight parameter for the action. It made the verbal word play difficult to focus and encouraged ponderous blocking. We were criminally nearly always ahead of the gag. The whole thing just took a long time to not do very much.