Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.
Driving Miss Daisy
Also see Tracy's recent review of Man of La Mancha
Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize winning play Driving Miss Daisy is the latest offering from the Olney Theatre Center and they have presented an excellent production. Directed by Thomas W. Jones II, Driving Miss Daisy focuses on Daisy Werthan, an obstinate elderly woman of means and her relationship with her good-natured chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn.
The play follows the characters from their meeting in Atlanta in 1948 all the way through to 1973. The differences between this pair are evident from the start. Miss Daisy is Jewish, educated and wealthy. Hoke is African-American, illiterate and makes a modest wage. Nonetheless, the two forge a deep friendship despite Miss Daisy's cantankerous behavior and the difficult struggle for civil rights in the sixties.
Uhry's script is appealing. His words distract and amuse. In fact, his dialogue is so enjoyable that is easy to get lost in the words, and the real core of the play sneaks up on you. But once it does, it packs a punch.
OTC veteran and Associate Artistic Director, Halo Wines, is superb as the cranky old widow. Her portrayal reveals many layers and she relates the comic moments with a dryness that can't help but make one smile. Keith N. Johnson's Hoke just radiates sweetness. He could have easily fallen into a stereotypical interpretation. Instead, his performance is subtle and quite lovely. Rounding out the cast is David Marks as Miss Daisy's genial son, Boolie. Mr. Marks is obviously having fun with this role and he is very enjoyable to watch.
Thomas W. Jones II has done a nice job directing this piece. It moves well and the characters are well defined. The set by Daniel Conway looks like a proper southern sitting room. The costumes also work well. Designed by Howard Vincent Kurtz, the designs fit both the personalities of the characters and the time period.
Many who may be familiar with the 1989 movie will find much in common with the film version. Those who are not are in for a treat. There is quite a lot to like about this production. Once again, OTC has provided a quality piece of work. Driving Miss Daisy runs through November 3rd.
Olney Theatre Center
Daisy Werthan: Halo Wines