Back to 2015
2015-04-25 matinee, Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
17 March – 2 May 2015 (and UK Tour)
I found brilliant to see the shadow of a giant rabbit’s head on the curtains before the show started, pity the audience wasn’t allowed to take pictures.
So what works mostly in this play and made me gloating was that, like in the movie, Harvey’s presence stayed along the action even if you couldn’t see him for real. The fact is that he was an invisible giant rabbit. You could only see he opened doors as he entered or left a room, but you could well believe he was there as Elwood, the protagonist, and later his sister and his doctor believed he was there.
Elwood even reserved a seat for him wherever they went together: a restaurant, a theatre, a cinema, making people he met worried and confused. And yet Elwood didn’t seem to feel strange, he stayed cheerful and full of confidence in the good things in life, expecially in friendship and family love. It was a very funny play that didn’t make me miss the movie with James Stewart, an American tale brought to London with British humour.
It’s still such a clever writing! We’ll never know why Elwood’s friend got the appearance of a “six-foot tall white rabbit” instead of a tall person, for example, and why a man in his middle age would be friend of an animal that way and would bring him everywhere he goes, but it doesn’t matter. It’s like a fairy tale!
Maybe “Harvey” would be different if it took place in modern times, but it still works placing it at the early years of the XX Century as the original, when Psychiatry was still a new science and people were not yet so complicated as today.
At the end Elwood seems to be the most clever character in the story, anyone else around him was only worried because his behaviour could be a problem for the family, but they changed their mind when they realized that Harvey was real.
This time my whole attention was on the three main actors, despite the rest of the cast was good.
James Dreyfus was brilliant as Elwood, I had great expectations to see him on stage after some funny screen roles he played: he wandered around with a big smile on his face, walking in a funny way and fancied every woman he met. He played the role with tenderness and irony, I loved much his performance!
Maureen Lipman was his eccentric sister Vita, full of energy and with many funny lines to say with the help of a telephone. She wanted to bring his brother to a clinic, even if she started to believe in Harvey herself already!
David Bamber as the psychiatrist Doctor Chumley, upright man of science, very funny in showing his astonishment seeing the giant rabbit with his own eyes. Like when he runs into his clinic, scared, because he had just seen the rabbit.
Some notes about the staging.
The set design was detailed and turned back and forth in three different places: the sitting room in late ‘800-early ‘900 style, with a sofa, a big bookcase in the background, a table with a telephone that was an important element of the action — the hall of the clinic of Doctor Chumley, with a desk, stairs for the upper floor, the front door and the office door, two other very important elements — a bar with a counter behind which there was the barista and some tables where clients were seated.
Cast and Creatives official sites and Twitter accounts:
James Dreyfus as Elwood P. Dowd @DreyfusJames
Maureen Lipman as Veta Louise Simmons
David Bamber as William R. Chumley @dbamber_actor (?)
Desmond Barrit as Judge Omar Gaffney
Amanda Boxer as Miss Ethel Chauvenet
Felicity Dean as Betty Chumley @felicityjdean
Linal Haft as E J Lofgren
Jack Hawkins as Lyman Sanderson @MrJackHawkins
Youssef Kerkour as Duane Wilson @YoussefKerkour
Ingrid Oliver as Myrtle Mae Simmons @ingridoliver100
Sally Scott as Nurse Ruth Kelly @SalsScott
David Morley Hale as Charlie the Barman/Understudy for Elwood P. Dowd/ William R. Chumley/ Judge Omar Gaffney @ (?)
Lydea Perkins as Dancer/ Understudy for Myrtle Mae Simmons/ Nurse Ruth Kelly RN @lydeacperkins
Buster Skeggs as Walker/Understudy for Veta Louise Simmons/ Betty Chumley/ Miss Ethel Chauvenet
Alexander Warner as Dancer/ Understudy for Lyman Sanderson MD/ Duane Wilson/ E J Lofgren/ Charlie the Barman
Lindsay Posner – Director
Thomas B.McGrath – Producer
Peter McKintosh – Designer
Howard Harrison – Lighting Designer @hmhlondon (?)
Paul Groothuis – Sound Designer
Matthew Scott – Composer
Ginny Schiller CDG – Casting Director
Emily Jones – Casting Assistant to Ginny Schiller
Kate Plantin CDG – Casting Director
Drew Mulligan – Associate Director
Zarbarjad Salam – Voice Coach
Ken Ludwig – Additional Dialogue
Elwood P. Dowd has only one character flaw: an unwavering friendship with a six foot tall, invisible rabbit, named Harvey.
This hilarious comedy immortalised in the 1950 classic film starring James Stewart, was first produced on Broadway in 1944 and now comes to the UK tour.
There’s a bit of Harvey in all of us!
LINKS & SOURCES
INTERVIEW: James Dreyfus reveals the challenge of taking on iconic role in Harvey express.co.uk
Flyer and Programme, with interview to James Dreyfus “Laughter matters“
TRAILERS & CLIPS