“Hay Fever”: A weekend of bizarre sophisticates

Updated: Oct 16, 2019

Valley transports its audience into a world of amusing drama with this October play.

by Aimee Martinez, Valley Life editor

Photo by Alexandriana Alonso/Special to the Star

The Valley College Theater Department delves into Cookham, England to tell the story of the eccentric Bliss family, whose varied guests experience all the antics of a retired actress, a novelist and their peculiar children. 

Written by Noel Coward, the comedic play “Hay Fever” spans a weekend at the Bliss’ summer home with each member’s personal guests. Unsuspecting of the impending drama are a proper English diplomat, a shy flapper, a young boxer and a fashionable sophisticate.

Directed by Theater Professor Cathy Susan Pyles, the production stars Valley students Matthew Hawkins, Ann Kriss, Josh Lea, Quirina Medici, Enver Messano, Ewa Tonia, Vivianne Torres, Bill Wallis and Naomi Kim Yoon. The Production Stage Manager is Jonel Hudson. The set and costumes are designed  by Jennifer L. Read. Lighting design and technical direction are by Mark Svastics. 

“I love this play,” said Pyles. “It’s very high society with British wit, sarcasm and fun. I’ve worked on it once before as a set designer and performed in it.”

As a fast-paced comedy, Pyle has ensured that every joke is well executed, including the timing, the appropriate gestures or the banter—all articulated in brisk British manner. In fact, the first two weeks were spent just practicing the English dialogue. The particular quirks attached to each of the nine roles must also be effectively acted in order to enhance the overall humor. 

Playing the sweet flapper, Jackie Coryton, is Medici — a playwright whose three original plays premiered in Hollywood at the August festival and the Young Playwrights Festival. 

“[Jackie is] very childlike, fun and oblivious. I can relate to her in a way,” said the 17 year old about her character. 

Hawkins takes the role of boxer Sandy Tyrell. He has been a part of three other Valley productions such as “The Way of the World” and “Dutchman.” He hopes to transfer as a theater major to a four-year university to pursue acting.

“It’s been amazing,” said Hawkins. “I decided to do it again. Cathy’s one of the greatest acting teachers to have.”

Guardado is the assistant stage manager. He presets the stage, props and is on call for anything that might go wrong. This is his fifth Valley production. 

“I just want to get as much experience as possible to work in the field,” said Guardado. “Overall, it’s been lovely and I’ve learned so much from Cathy and Jonel.”

Messano plays the smart yet oblivious diplomat, Richard Greatham. In previous plays, Messano worked as a director, a sound designer and a production stage manager. The 36 year old has performed with the theater department for three years now. 

“I just love theater, so when the faculty puts on these shows, it's always amazing quality,” said Messano. “This is a different experience because most of the cast is new but it’s been fun learning how all the new people behave. I hope that [the audience] sees how complicated love can be and don’t take it too seriously.”

“Hay Fever” opens October 17 in the Horseshoe Theater. There will be evening performances Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. and a Sunday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are sold for $15 online and $20 at the door. Students may purchase their tickets at https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/4331769