You will have no one to blame but yourself if you miss this wondrous production of “Driving Miss Daisy” written by Alfred Uhry. This is what great theatre is all about. What true acting is all about. Three consummate actors – Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines – in one of the best shows I have attended all season.
All are giving exceptional performances headed by Ms. Redgrave who ages and becomes a physically changed woman right before our eyes – baring the heart and soul of her character Daisy Werthan, a Southern Jewish woman who must swallow her pride and independence when she becomes too accident prone to continue driving her car and must bow to her son’s wishes to hire a black chauffeur, Hoke Coleburn (the excellent James Earl Jones) who needs the job and is continually bemused by her attitude towards him – slowly ingratiating himself with her while always being respectful, waiting for her to give him a small clue as to what the next step in their relationship will be.
Director David Esbjornson has coaxed emotionally powerful performances from his perfect trio and the last scene will bring tears to your eyes as it is revealed how strong the friendship between Miss Daisy and Hoke has become.
A relationship that starts off shaky at best in 1948 and continues in a series of short vignettes through to the late sixties. Within that time span they have to deal with the Civil Rights Movement, the KKK, Martin Luther King, Hoke learning to read and above all – each other.
It is to Mr. Gaines’ credit that he has made Daisy’s son Boolie so endearing a person as he is more interested in making a name for himself in the banking business than tending to his demanding mother. He hires Hoke to stand in for him and Hoke does an amazing job at turning the cold and distant Mrs. Wertham into his best friend.
Projections are used to fill the stage as “Driving Miss Daisy” is a very intimate show. The car, suggested by a bench, a seat and a steering wheel has been cleverly set up on a turntable.
But it is the performance of Miss Redgrave that fills the stage with artistry and leaves an indelible mark on our minds with her moving performance that gets to the heart of the matter and into our hearts with simplicity, honesty and humor.
It’s a great show. See it now. At The Golden Theatre. Through January 29th.
www.daisyonbroadway.com Photo: Annabel Clark