Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


Florida Atlantic University's first student-run news source.


FAU’s “Hay Fever” offers much more than a little allergy relief

Hay Feve by Noel Coward. Directed by Jean Louis Baldet.Playing June 20-July 20 at FAU’S Studio One Theatre.

Starring: Kelly Marckioli, David Mann, Kelly Greenwalt, Steve Russo, Patricia Drozda, John Herrera, Kristen Upchurch, Seth Maisel, and Raniah Emery.

A warmly lit parlor that invites an evening of intimacy and coziness awaits the audience as they enter FAU’s Studio One Theatre. This is the main setting for Hay Fever, the Noel Coward concoction of a silly and humorous play set in the raucous 1920s, directed by Jean Louis Baldet.

Don’t be fooled by the snug setting and design of the living room. We are about to enter a world of sexual confusion, zany antics, and mixed-up relationships, compliments of the hyper and eccentric Bliss family.

The play’s main focus is the sexually charged and frustrated relationships of the outrageous Bliss family and their partners.

On a rainy English weekend, we meet the children: Son, Simon Bliss (gleefully played by Steve Russo) and his boisterous, buxom sister (Kelly Greenwalt) who announce that they have significant others coming for a visit. Their mother Judith, an over-the- top actress past her prime (played to wry perfection by Kelly Marckioli) also announces her own guest is arriving for the weekend.

Upon meeting Judith’s longhaired bohemian of a husband, writer David Mann, we see that the family is rather dysfunctional, with an insatiable taste for sex and partner swapping.

The Bliss family’s guests include flapper Myra Arundel (Patricia Drozda), gentleman Richard Greatham (John Herrera), mousy and neurotic Jackie Coryton (Kristen Upchurch), and the handsome Sandy Tyrell (Seth Maisel). All arrive only to learn that the behavior they receive is anything but civil.

The production provides us with some marvelous performances. Seth Maisel gives an adorable portrayal of a confused chap who is easily seduced by domineering women with a penchant for scarfing pastries. His facial expressions ranging from stimulated to confused are priceless.

John Herrera’s portrayal of the seemingly reserved “English gentleman” Richard Greatham is played to smarmy perfection. His performance is a reminder of what the power of great subtle acting can be. His body language during the art of seduction is not unlike the hilarious Looney Toon character Pepe Le Pew – watch as the skunk tries to seduce the female cat. From slow twitches to jolting and clumsy thrusts towards the woman he is after, we see by the motives of this perfect man that he is anything but. It is the mistakes he makes that make him laugh-out-loud funny.

Kelly Marckioli’s exaggerated and hilarious portrayal of Judith Bliss dominates the production. With exaggerated sighs reminiscent of Anne Baxter’s sighs of “Moses, Moses!” from The Ten Commandments, and the fluid, mischievous body language of a woman who needs to be the center of attention, she is reason enough to see this production more than once.

Along with the zany actions that the actors portray, the coinciding of the lighting fuses an effective reminder of just how over-the-top and zany the ’20s were. The set design by Courtney Bonaduce also provides a flavor of the era, an elegance and over-extravagance that most theatrical actors of the era had in their tastes.

This winning production boasts some wonderful technical achievements, notably the lighting. The warm and cozy illumination by the talented Richard Gamble provides an intimacy that feels like watching a silent film in color, a hark back to the golden era of films that starred Greta Garbo, Charlie Chaplin, and Louise Brooks.

This is definitely a hilarious production worth viewing. It’s brilliantly designed, with performances that will not leave your memory anytime soon. Hay Fever, Noel Coward’s play of infidelity and freewheeling of bizarre emotions, does the improbable – it packs quite a punch and tickles your funny bone at the same time.

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