Play review by Julia Pattison: Driving Miss Daisy at York Theatre Royal

The talented actors drew us into their compelling story, which is as relevant today as it was then.
The talented actors drew us into their compelling story, which is as relevant today as it was then.

Play: Driving Miss Daisy

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Dates: Until Saturday, June 29

Review by: Julia Pattison

The situation and characters in the play Driving Miss Daisy were drawn from playwright Alfred Uhry’s own memories, with the play earning him an Outer Critics Circle Award and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1987, as well as being made into the Academy Award–winning film in 1989.

He was born in 1936 into a Jewish family in Atlanta Georgia and is quoted in the programme as saying: “I want people to know this is a story about regular people and how they learn, change and grow.”

Director Suzann Mclean has taken his words on board and has brilliantly captured the emotional, powerful connections the characters have with each other.

A three-hander play, featuring two charismatic American actors, Cory English, playing Boolie, Miss Daisy’s son, and Maurey Richards taking on the role of her driver, Hoke Coleburn, along with versatile actress Paula Wilcox playing Daisy Werthan, who maintained a convincing Georgia accent throughout the play; and not least, the wonderful car, designed by Emma Wee, and made by Paul Lazenby, which had a starring role of its own, (look out too for its cheeky farewell at the curtain call).

Paula Wilcox was outstanding as Miss Daisy, bringing out her character’s strong spirit, and wry humour, yet portraying her vulnerability too.

What struck me most was the love and care that Boolie showed his mother as she aged, the way we could see the world from both their points of view; and the growing bond between her and her most tolerant African American chauffeur Hoke.

The talented trio of actors drew us into their compelling story, which is as relevant today as it was then.

Set and Costume Designer Emma Wee’s attention to detail helped us to subconsciously be a fly on the wall, whether it was a heated conversation between Miss Daisy and her son Boolie, or her reaction to Hoke’s story after the white supremacists’ bombing of The Hebrew Benevolent Congregation’s Temple in Atlanta, Georgia.

Projections on to the top of the set, along with snippets of relevant music signalled the passing years most effectively with newspaper headlines, advertisements for household products and news footage.

“Every stage of our life is precious and should never be taken for granted” is Director Suzann Mclean’s message, which comes over loud and clear in this sensitively presented, moving and relevant piece of theatre.