People Who Are Not Afraid
I watched the Boston University Production of Noel Cowrd's Hay Fever this past weekend. The set was
outstanding. The play is tour deforce of wit and manners, or, as the tagline on the marketing says,
"very bad manners." The program indicated that Noel Coward wrote the play in three days, and this was
the subject of a good amount of talk in the seats around me as to what a genius he was. However, as I
watched the play with great delight, the thought occured to me that it was not neccessarily a well-constructed
play, although it did have all of the trappings of such. The genius of the play, indeed of most of Coward's
writing, lies in the fact that he unashamedly courageous. He is not afraid in the least bit as he writes
away in a fever mode.
A recent Broadway Revival of Private Lives showed that people really have to work to make
serious of his plays. His works are a fresh breeze, and that is not a criticism at all. Remember
that works of genius defy the commercial conventions and go on to success. His light and airy
farces and his razor wit and dialogue will survive in productions probably forever, when, on the
surface, they should probably not have outlasted their original run.
Every play and song Noel Coward wrote, he wrote as if it was his last, jamming nuances, ideas
and melodies, and characters into them as if he were about to expire and needed to get it all out.
"Risk your reputation every time you write a play, " is advice I read recently. Noel Coward is a man
utterly confident in his talent, and his right to be writing and composing.
Paula Plum did a fabulous job as the matriarch of the Bliss family, and even though she is not a singer,
she did here best to soldier through the song required of her. It made me a little saddened that Mrs. Plum,
who is supposed to be Boston's shining star, diva, grand dame, is not able to deliver a Noel Coward song
with suitable panache.
The young actress playing the daughter Sorrel, was a bright and shining example for the BU Theatre Program.
if she does not go on to great success, I would be very surprised.