Betsy Pennington Taylor proved that Saturday night at the City Lit Theater as she portrayed aging stage actress Judith Bliss in a production of Noel Coward's "Hay Fever".
Taylor's performance was deliberately over the top as Bliss's character was a melodramatic retired starlet, who served as the matriarch of an exceedingly dysfunctional family.
The four Blisses (mother, Stephen Fedo as father David, Travis Shanahan as son Simon, and Lizzie Williams as daughter Sorel) have each invited a guest to spend a weekend at their summer home, without informing any of the others. Not only is the house too crowded, but the guests quickly experience discomfort at the bizarre attitudes of the Bliss family. They are self-absorbed and rude and obnoxious; but they are clever and funny. The houseguests' pain becomes the audience's pleasure.
The guests themselves are not particularly likable - they range from dimwitted to manipulative - but their flaws pale beside the antics of their bohemian hosts. Gerrit Wilford's performance was particularly memorable as he responds in shock when Judith overreacts to his flirtations, announcing that she must now inform her husband. The entire family tends to overreact in every situation. It is this behavior that repulses outsiders yet bonds the family together. And it is what makes "Hay Fever" a success.