Virginia Stride in Driving Miss Daisy
15 February 2002 WOS Rating: This story takes us on a journey along the roads of the deep South of the United States in the company of Daisy Werthan ( Virginia Stride) and her chauffeur Hoke Coleburn ( Geoffrey Burton). Along the way, it explores the developing understanding between two individuals separated by barriers of class and race in post-war Atlanta society.
Neither is a spring chicken when the story starts in 1948. 'Miss' Daisy is 72 and Hoke is 60. By time it ends in 1973, she's a feisty nonogenarian and he a mellow 75. Over the intervening 25 years, a deep companionship develops between the white middle class Jewish lady and her black servant. The story is based on the experiences of Uhry's aunt, and he uses her Jewish background to show that Daisy too must cope with racial prejudice. The original New York stage production ran for over 1300 performances and Uhry won the 1988 Pulitzer Prize. The film version won Oscars for Uhry and for Jessica Tandy who famously played Daisy alongside Morgan Freeman's Hoke.
Jon Harris's lucid and affecting production here, it's easy to understand why the piece has been so successful. Even before the play starts, high production values are evident in the uncluttered evocative set. It represents Daisy's comfortable home and, glimpsed beyond, is the open countryside through which Hoke drives her.
The depth of the set is echoed by the depth of the performances. From their first edgy exchanges, Harris' actors delicately flag up the possibilities for the relationship that unfolds between Daisy and Hoke. And
John Chancer as Daisy's solicitous son Boolie makes it clear how and why he comes to value the friendship of the employee on whom he depends to share his mother's care. The interdependency of the characters is another important thread running through the play, which deals with issues of dignity in old age as much as it does with class and race. All three performers make us believe in their growing together - and growing old.
In the opening minutes, I thought the production was moving at a pace too leisurely for me. By the end, I felt as if I had been on a real journey. I'd been slowed down gently and expertly to the right pace for this very special time and emotional study. The audience gave it a standing ovation, with good reason.
- Judi Herman (reviewed at London's
Stratford Circus) Related Content
Subscribe to our free newsletter
Featured Editor's Picks
: The economic impact of Arts & Culture in the UK Infographic When Culture Secretary Maria Miller called for the arts to make their "economic case" for subsidy, t... Plays Cast: Harry Potter star in Southwark Moment, more for Branagh's Macbeth Bonnie Wright, best known for playing Ginny Weasley in the Harry Potter films, will make her stage d... Brief Encounter with ... The Kite Runner's Ben Turner Ben Turner stars in the stage version of the bestselling book The Kite Runner, which runs at Liverpo... Titus Andronicus (RSC) This latest production of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus, to borrow from football punditry, is a p... : Britain's outdoor theatres Take Five With half-term approaching, the weather (hopefully) set to improve for the bank holiday weekend and ... West End Live returns to Trafalgar Square next month West End Live, a weekend of free entertainment from top London shows, will return to Trafalgar Squar... : 'I carry the ghost of Gregory Peck on my shoulders' Robert Sean Leonard Actor Robert Sean Leonard is currently playing Atticus Finch in Timothy Sheader's production of To K... To Kill A Mockingbird Twenty years ago, a young Robert Sean Leonard appeared on the London stage with Alan Alda in... X Factor musical titled I Can't Sing!, opens Palladium March 2014 The forthcoming X Factor musical will be called I Can't Sing! The Musical and will premiere at the L... Donmar stages Nick Payne premiere, Wesker's Roots & Tom Hiddleston in Coriolanus The Donmar Warehouse has announced its new season, which features the premiere of Nick Payne's new p...