Sunday, October 5, 2014

Having Driven Miss Daisy

Back from yesterday's Ford's Theatre matinee of Driving Miss Daisy, starring local favorites Nancy Robinette and Craig Wallace.

promotion art for Driving Miss Daisy, Ford's Theatre

Like the theatrical ballet Chéri over at the Kennedy Center, Daisy covered the arc of a relationship, principally between two people but supplemented with a third-party narrative thread weaver--in this case, Daisy's dutiful but condescending son Boolie (new to Ford's Ron Heneghan).

I was familiar with the film version of Daisy but hadn't seen it in a while. Fortunately, the lady sitting behind me was helpfully providing her companion information about what she remembered would be coming up in several scenes. [/sarcasm]

Unlike the movie, though, the stage production extracted the essential drama out of a realistic environment and placed these crucial moments on small vignettes, smoothly driven on and off stage on gliding platforms. The feel of the play was thus more like a series of memories.

Nancy Robinette ("Miss Daisy") and Craig Wallace ("Hoke"). Production photography by Scott Suchman, via Ford's Theatre
As interesting as Nancy Robinette always is to watch, it was Wallace's embodiment of "Hoke" that really impressed me. His voice for Hoke was as strong as that for his Frederick Douglass, which brought all the more dignity to a role so vastly different from the latter.

Despite the vignette-to-vignette "memory" feel of this production, I liked the realism in the characters' interaction; they actually acted with each other. In some shows I've seen in recent years (Carpetbagger's Children, ReEntry), the actors seem to be standing alone or talking out over the audience's head to an unseen character, even though their fellow dramatis personae are standing next to them. What's that about?

As always, I was impressed with the economical creativity of staging at Ford's (credit scenic designer Tony Cisek), a stage that never seems as small as it is. And I was delighted to find at least one more good seat in the house besides the one up in the dress circle that seemed to work for me. Sight lines are bad almost throughout the theater, especially when the tall tourists are in town. So, gentle readers, please save L-1 in the orchestra for me. Thanks.

Ford's Theatre | 511 10th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20004
Driving Miss Daisy
by Alfred Uhry; directed by Jennifer L. Nelson
September 26-October 26, 2014

Love, hosaa
A seat with a view

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