Noël Coward’s (1899–1973) plays embody (incarna) the sophisticated sense of humor of the period between the two world wars. Hay Fever (Febbre da Fieno, 1925) is a comedy of manners written in three days after spending a weekend at the house of the actor Laurette Taylor. It debuted in London on August 6, 1925 and won praise (fu lodata) from both audiences and critics. It has no plot (trama) and no real actions – as Coward himself pointed out (fece notare) – but the audience is amused (divertito) by the witty (sagaci) dialogues and the gags which are performed (recitate) on the stage (palcoscenico). Besides (inoltre) Cowrad refers to some famous actors of the time ….The comedy is set ( si svolge) in the hall (sala) of the Bliss family home. The eccentric family is composed of Judith, a recently retired stage actress (attrice in pensione), David, a self-centered (auto referenziale) novelist, and their two equally original children. They live as in a fiction (vivono come in un film). At the weekend some guests arrive. They are a proper (accurate) diplomat, a shy flapper (timida ragazza emancipate, tipica degli anni ’20), an athletic boxer, and a fashionable sophisticate (sofisticata alla moda). They find themselves (si trovano) in front of melodramatic scenes performed by the host (ospitante) family members that show emotions and reactions in front of situation which do not exist ….till at the end the guests tiptoe (se ne vanno in punta di piedi) out of the door. The play’s humor is provided by context. Hay fever was adapted for televisions several times.
Among Coward’s other works are Bittersweet (1929), PrivateLives (1930), Cavalcade (1931), Words and Music (1932), Design for Living (1933), and Tonight at 8.30 (1936). During the years of World War II, Coward entertained British troops with the patriotic film In Which We Serve (1942). One of his one-act plays is the source of David Lean’s acclaimed wartime film Brief Encounter (1945).