Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES - Family Circle

Magazine article The Spectator

CULTURE NOTES - Family Circle

Article excerpt

'We're a beastly family, and I hate us!' laments Sorel Bliss in Hay Fever. And at first it seems all four Blisses share that sentiment. Each has invited a guest to their house in Cookham, and appears to be hoping not just for a weekend of feverish passion but also for a permanent escape: as much from them selves as from the other s .

When the guests arrive, however, the Blisses taunt and ignore them by turns. As for feverish passion, it seems readily transferable. Sorel exchanges partners with her mother Judith, and her brother swaps his guest (done as a languorous Cruella de Vil type by Alexandra Gilbreath) for his novelist father's 'perfectly sweet flapper'. We realise the Blisses were looking less for escape than for escapist fantasy, as well as for conscripts for the quarrelsome rituals that sustain what is - as Stephen Unwin's straightforward production emphasises - a selfsufficient, well-functioning family. …

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