Rossendale’s Roaring Twenties farce

The Rossendale Players cast of Hay Fever
The Rossendale Players cast of Hay Fever

An assortment of eccentric characters from the Roaring Twenties forms a very English comedy of manners for the Rossendale Players’ latest production – Noel Coward’s “Hay Fever”.

The play, written in 1924 and first performed in 1925, is one of the earliest the Players have produced in recent years.

Perhaps the continued success of television’s “Downton Abbey”, set during that sometimes decadent decade, was the inspiration for this choice of play.

This was the first Noel Coward play I had seen, and I have to admit it starts slowly. Performed in three acts, the performance does build into an entertaining, over-the-top farce.

Leading the way as the head of the awful Bliss family is Penny Griffin as the over-wrought actress Judith Bliss – the worst kind of drama queen seen on stage.

It was a performance full of energy from Penny who really lets rip as Judith. For once, hamming it up is definitely the way forward. I imagine Penny must be exhausted after every performance after all those faux faints, outraged exclamations and dubious declarations of love.

She is ably supported by Stuart Marshall, and young actors Daniel Starkie and Helen Lockett as David and Sorrel, while fellow up-and-coming actress Siobhan Morris is brilliant in her understated portrayal of “flapper” Jackie Coryton.

John Spencer, Dorrie Partington and Geoffrey Collinge as the remaining guest who eventually flee from their horrid hosts are also great in their supporting roles as is Maureen Jackson’s no-nonsense housekeeper Clara.

The Players held a charity night on Sunday in partnership with the Haslingden Ladies Guild of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) raising around £550.

The play runs at the New Millennium Theatre, Burnley Road East, Waterfoot, until Saturday and tickets priced at £7 can be reserved by calling Anne on 01706 228720 or bought from Watts News.