Saturday, January 14, 2006

P-CRAC is occasionally left speechless

Review: Hayfever
by Charles Demers
Seven Oaks Magazine

Apparently, in this life, there are those who relate to highbrow British playwright Noel Coward on the one hand, and those who relate to thick-browed Russian anarchist Mikhail Bakunin on the other. I made the mistake of offering my extra ticket to Nicola Cavendish’s current staging of Coward’s play Hayfever – running until January 28th at North Vancouver’s Performance House Theatre – to a dear friend, devoted anarchist and biographer of Bakunin who shall remain nameless; his anonymity an echo of the faceless terror that Bakunin’s anarchism shot through the European bourgeoisie and authoritarian Marxist movements alike. Since most British people (in my understanding) are either bourgeois or authoritarian Marxists, Coward really didn’t have a chance.

It didn’t help that the affluent, blue-rinse North Vancouver audience was eating up Hayfever’s cucumber sandwich of theatricality with a silver spoon. Watching the aristocratic tea-swillers in the crowd sympathetically imbibing the aristocratic bohemian rejoinders that make up Coward’s script was like watching the play in 3-D glasses. They laughed uproariously whenever the onstage family’s maid was impudent (they somehow managed to recognize her capturing of the essence of domestic help even though she wasn’t Filipina), and at one point, the man sitting next to me (to my left, as it turned out) nearly wet himself after hearing the lines “‘Do they have tea here?’ ‘They must!’”


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