Review: Hare-raising ‘Harvey’ impresses

Category:  The Arts
Thursday, November 1st, 2018 at 8:46 AM

The 1944 play “Harvey,” written by Mary Chase, is a surreal, captivating story that challenges the line between fantasy and reality.

Richard Kolbosky, with assistant director Mason Kuhr, took on the demanding task of bringing the Pulitzer Prize-winning play to life over the course of three short weeks. Amazingly, this fact is scarcely evident in the cast’s performance.

Set in the 1940s, the story follows the eccentric Elwood P. Dowd, played by Jessi Dawes, and his best friend Harvey, a 6-foot tall white rabbit.

Torie Witherow plays opposite Dawes as Elwood’s capable sister, Veta Louise Simmons. She and her daughter Myrtle Mae, played by Spencer Battershall, live with Elwood. Concerned that her dear brother has gone insane and fearing his delusions will have a negative effect on her daughter’s livelihood, Veta resolves to have Elwood committed. 

However, in the process of trying to obtain treatment for Elwood, Dr. Sanderson, played by Mikhail Ferree, mistakes the emotionally-distressed Veta as the unstable sibling instead.

Dawes does a fantastic job playing the bold, charming and ever-pleasant Elwood P. Dowd, but even more impressive is her ability to share a stage with the large, bipedal rabbit. Her performance brings the mystery and wonder of “Harvey” to life so effectively that half of you expects to see the 6-foot creature enter stage right.

The cast smooths over any stuttering or mistakes —  such as props falling off of tables — through ad libs and quick thinking. Witherow stands out especially, her emotional performance and stage-chemistry with Dawes acting as the backbone of the play. 

Kolbosky and his cast have done a wonderful job bringing Mary Chase’s work to the stage, producing a compelling show full of humor and wit.

The play will have showings at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 1-3, with a Sunday matinée at 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 5. Tickets are priced at $10 for general admission, $5 for EU faculty, seniors and children, and $3 for EU students.

Julia Kramer can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

Tags: arts, review

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