Thursday, March 31, 2011

Did I mention that I have been in New York Constant Reader?

Well I have. I have been to New York.

Nyah nyah ny-nyah nyah.

I also surpassed all other trips by going to the theatre every night - and twice on Saturday. I will be quietly amazed if Owen EVER suggests going to New York again.

Our first visit was to see Alfred Uhry's DRIVING MISS DAISY playing at the Golden Theatre with the jaw-dropping double act of Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones.

This was the play that I was most looking forward to but I was left feeling that two fine actors are saddled with a less-than-roadworthy vehicle.

Surprisingly this production marks the play's Broadway debut, it originally premiered in 1987
off-Broadway where it remained for three years which lead to the Oscar-winning film starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman. The play appeared in the West End in 1988 with Dame Wendy Hiller in her last theatre role alongside Clarke Peters.
The Broadway production is directed by David Esbjornson who moves the play smoothly along it's short running time of 95 minutes with no interval and Redgrave, Jones and Boyd Gaines respond with performances of great subtlety and nuance - although there were moments when Jones was mumblingly incoherent and of course you really shouldn't ever give Vanessa an accent. And I'm her biggest fan!

It's just a shame Uhry's work is less of a play and more a series of short scenes that give these fine performers nothing really to build up to - an emotion is hit but then the scene is over and they have to move on another few years. It was a strangely fitful affair and riddled with the optimistic passivity one finds in so much American drama.Despite video projections on the back of the John Lee Beatty's rather distractedly sparse set, there was never any real feeling of the momentous times Daisy and Hoke are living through in Georgia.

It was left to the performers to suggest the passage of time. Vanessa in particular, brought a great physicality to the role - when first seen she is furiously beating eggs to make a cake and moving with a ramrod back and slowly you watch her getting more bent and slow. The final scenes have a poignancy that is, again, the result of the onstage chemistry of the three actors rather than the play itself.Although I was a bit disappointed in the play, I wouldn't have missed seeing it or them.

No comments: