HARVEY: Mary Chase
Tickets: 0121 236 4455
Runs: 2h 30, one interval, to 21 February
Review: Alexander Ray Edser, 10 02 15
A heart-warming story, warmly told.
HARVEY, in case anyone doesn’t know it is the story about the laid back chap, whose regular companion is a 6 foot white rabbit (‘six foot three and a half’ to be exact.) Set in an idealised well-heeled American family, it pokes a finger at the fashion for psychiatry and the damage it can do in sorting people out. Elwood, the protagonist, might be eccentric (to say the least) and a social embarrassment, but he’s happy, and that counts for a lot.
The play’s a gentle comedy of the heart-warming kind. And heart-warming it is.
The cast are uniformly strong, working together to create a strong sense of place and time.
James Dreyfus and Maureen Lipman take the central roles (Elwood and Veta). Both highly skilled comedy players, their styles complement each other perfectly. Lipman has the more outgoing character, vocally and physically mining each moment for every ounce of comedy. Her description of her mother’s portrait in the second half is delicious. Dreyfus, on the other hand, is economic with his comedy; it stems from gently played lines and a marvellously expressive face. While one puts the comedy out to us, the other allows us to reach in for it. Yin and yang. Desmond Barrit makes a welcome and impressive presence as Judge Gaffney.
This is a strong ensemble company, with an infectious sense of fun. David Bamber as Dr Chumley is particularly funny as he comes to terms with his patient’s delusions.
The whole is nicely paced by director, Lindsay Posner; and it all looks terrifically stylish in Peter McKintosh’s elegant sets and costumes.
Ingrid Oliver: Myrtle Mae Simmons
Maureen Lipman: Veta Louise Simmons
James Dreyfus: Elwood P Dowd
Amanda Boxer: Miss Ethel Chauvenet
Sally Scott: Nurse Ruth Kelly RN
Youssef Kerkour: Duane Wilson
Jack Hawkins: Lyman Sanderson MD
David Bamber: William R Chumley
Felicity Dean: Betty Chumley
Desmond Barrit: Judge Omar Gaffney
Linal Haft: E J Lofgren
David Morley Hale: Charlie the Barman
Lydia Perkins: Dancer
Buster Skeggs: Walker
Alexander Warner: Dancer
Lindsay Posner: Director
Don Gregory: Producer
Peter McKintosh: Designer
Howard Harrison: Lighting Designer
Paul Groothuis: Sound Designer
Ken Ludwig: Additional Dialogue
Matthew Scott: Composer
Drew Milligan: Associate Director
Ginny Schiller: Casting Director