Theater Review: 'Harvey'


Theater Review: 'Harvey'


Date: April 3, 2013
by: Paula Atwell | Theater Critic




“Harvey” is probably best known as a 1950 film starring Jimmy Stewart and Josephine Hull. Mary Chase, who was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for drama as a result, wrote the play. The Players’ production captures all the old-fashioned quaintness of a slower, simpler time. 

The plot revolves around the unintended adventures of Elwood P. Dowd (played with gentle sweetness bordering on passivity by Allen Kretschmar), a man who probably has no aspirations, whatsoever, having opted out of the rat race of his era. He spends his time visiting his many friends at various bars around town in the company of a 6-foot, 3 1/2-inch tall Pooka, in this case an anthropomorphic, invisible to most, rabbit named Harvey. Elwood is in the habit of introducing Harvey to all and sundry, thus causing his society-worshipping sister, Veta, nicely played by Laurie Zimmerman, and her daughter, Myrtle Mae, played with effective broadness by Alex Torres, great embarrassment.

Because Veta has become increasingly eager to entertain those she considers important and marry off her daughter, she fears that Elwood’s behavior will scare off future suitors, so she decides to have him committed to a mental hospital. What follows is a comedy of errors, melded to a comedy of manners.

So, is Harvey real, or is he a figment of Elwood’s imagination or possibly his alcoholism? Therein lies much of the appeal of the piece. The playwright posits that Harvey appeared to Elwood because, “I wrestled with reality for more than 40 years, and I’m glad to say, I finally won out over it,” implying that it’s letting go of getting and spending that’s freed Elwood to become the kind and gentle man he is under the influence of Harvey. But, does she mean that it’s better to be a harmless alcoholic than a rapacious businessman? It would seem so, because in Act II, Elwood passes Harvey along to another sour, self-centered man with the implication that he, too, will be cured of his selfishness. 

At the heart of this play is a rather dour view of the foibles of humanity. Dowd, having overcome his own propensities through a rabbit, declares, “I’d almost be willing to live my life over again — almost.”

Under the lively direction of Linda McCluggage, the talented cast brings the remaining characters to life. Rosalind Cramer performs a lively turn as Mrs. Ethel Chavenet; Amanda Heisey gives an efficient Ruth Kelly; Adam Garrison provides a testosterone-crazed Duane Wilson; Joseph Mammina serves up a confused Lyman Sanderson; Patti O’Berg turns the small part of Betty Chumley into a little jewel; and you can easily envision John Forsyth twirling his mustache as William Chumley.

“Harvey” runs through April 7, at The Players Theatre. For more information, call 365-2494. 

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Currently 1 Response

  • 1.
  • I'm sorry, but that is an utterly pointless and ridiculously written review. As a former theater critic, I have to say that when the reviewer spends more time talking about the play itself than the production, it's like she's trying to fill space without actually saying anything, or -- crazy, since the person is a critic -- actually offering an opinion. And her recap of people at the end is absurd; if you're not familiar with the play, you have no idea who these characters are, or what they have to do with anything. I'm sure it's a great production, but the only things one can truly glean from that review are that a) Players is putting on "Harvey," and b) a bunch of people are pretty good in it.
  • David Abolafia
    Wed 3rd Apr 2013
    at 11:04am
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