Hay Fever

When you start doing research, there's a little predatory creature who takes up residence in the centre of your brain, and lies in wait, ready to pounce on any prey that has the faintest whiff of relevance.

Last night I went to see Hay Fever at the Haymarket Theatre in London, starring Judi Dench (brilliant) as Judith Bliss. I  had the play mentally pigeonholed  – key text of 1925, epitome of post-war, mockery of faded rhetoric and unthinking seriousness, and so on. I wanted to just sit back and enjoy a play I admire immensely. Less actually happens in it than in Waiting for Godot, but each word of the text works like magic.

As I was watching though, that creature in my brain kept pouncing on details. Judith Bliss out in the garden learning the names of flowers so she can act the role of nature-lover – can I take this as a parody of post-war ruralism? In a pastiche of melodramatic dialogue, there's the word "sacrifice", and it gets a laugh – aha! mockery of a key word of war-language…

So, is the haddock symbolic? Stop it, little creature – I just want to enjoy the play.

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