"the gross and scope of my opinion ..." Hamlet I,1.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Theatre Group at Brentwood Theatre
daughter and her nervous mother receive no gentlemen callers. The
embarrassing man in their life leaves the home to drink in cheap
taverns and shady bars, and brings home unsuitable friends to play
cards. Magazine subscriptions are sold to a "circle" over
Tennessee territory ? Well, this is the feel-good comedy Williams
never wrote: Mary Chase's ever-popular Harvey.
is the one – best known as a Jimmy Stewart vehicle on celluloid –
about Elwood P, whose imaginary friend is 6 foot 1, and has holes in
his hat where his ears poke through.
her début as a director, Claire Hilder wisely assembled an
experienced team of all the talents. Lionel Bishop was "the
biggest screwball in town", giving a wonderful study of this oh
so pleasant philanthropist – a laid-back, almost throwaway
performance, but exuding childlike innocence and naïve charm.
useless shrinks who fail to turn our harmless hero into a "perfectly
normal human being" were Darren Matthews as Sanderson and Paul
Sparrowham, predictably excellent as Chumley: his closing scene with
Dowd – Pittsburgh and maple trees – was beautifully delivered.
Tirmizey played the distraught mother, Emma Feeney her frustrated
daughter. Plenty of pleasure to be had from the supporting cast,
including Bob Thompson's taxi driver, Alan Thorley's judge and Sacha
Flory's feisty nurse.
clever set design – by the director and Dr Sanderson – swivelled
to allow a reasonably seamless cross-fade from family mansion to
funny farm, and the incidental music [Happy Days Are Here Again]
neatly established period and mood.
visits to the bijou Brentwood venue sometimes recall a regular
old-style repertory company: familiar, friendly faces playing a range
of styles and roles over a season. This week, for instance, our two
doctors and our Myrtle May, not to mention one of the lady callers
and the director herself, were to be seen on this same stage just
days ago in College Players' hugely entertaining Roxy Krasner.