Hay Fever is the autumn offering from Next Stage Company and they serve up a frothy, light hearted romp through a weekend in the country, at the home of the ghastly self indulgent and selfish Bliss family.

This is perhaps not the wittiest Coward script and the plot is very thin, but the comedy of manners which teeters on farce has the hallmarks for highly entertaining play delivered with style and conviction by a highly capable company.

Judith Bliss, a retired attention seeking actress, lives with her two spoilt and competitive children Simon and Sorel whilst her husband David, a novelist is finishing writing a book. Each has invited a friend to stay for the weekend without consulting each other and the resulting fireworks, confusion and game playing ends with a familiar Coward trade mark of the guests escaping from the home whilst the family argue oblivious to their departure.

The characters are well defined, Joanna Bowman as Judith Bliss is a commanding leading lady flirting with her male admirers and ruling the home. Matthew Bromwich (Simon) and Nicole Goodchild (Sorel) are the suitably spoilt siblings; the usurped head of the household George Gent (David Bliss) in reality has little control over his family. The Bliss household is one of unending chaotic drama which leaves the guests unsure what is actually real and what is just a game. The visitors played by Jason Lemoir (Sandy Tyrell,) Lydia Cook (Myra Arundel)Andrew Ellison (Richard Greatham) and Georgi Bassil (Jackie Coryton) are left to watch in awe as the weekend becomes more bizarre and the confessions of love quite bewildering.

This is a good production, the set is well detailed and the direction slick whilst the stylised delivery and pace is generally well handled. If you are looking for something quite “spiffing” then The Mission is the place to be this week.

Petra Schofield