Driving Miss Daisy

By Rob Holcroft Tuesday 06 November 2012 Updated: 08/11 16:30

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Driving Miss Daisy

Malvern Theatres

THE 2012 award winning production of Driving Miss Daisy comes direct from Broadway and the West End to Malvern Festival Theatre this week, absolutely justifying its critical acclaim and rave reviews.

This incredibly heart-warming play affectionately explores the relationship that develops between an elderly, Jewish widow and an aging, black chauffeur, who was hired by her son, despite her objections, after she wrote off her new car, taking out a couple of buildings in the course of the unfortunate event.

The story, set in the Southern American state of Georgia, unfolds over two decades from 1948 to 1973, during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.

Despite what many believe, this moving tale was originally written by Alfred Uhry for the stage, premiering off Broadway, before being made into an Oscar winning film, starring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman.

Since then it has enjoyed much theatrical success with numerous stars adopting the lead roles, soon to include Angela Landsbury and James Earl Jones in a production in Australia next year.

The immensely talented Gwen Taylor is outstanding in the eponymous role of Miss Daisy, perfectly articulating her Southern drawl and physically transforming, with absolute believability, as the character ages from her early seventies to mid nineties.

Don Warrington, another national treasure, is utterly authentic as the driver, Hoke, creating a perfect partnership with whom to share the journey. Ian Porter brilliantly brings the final piece of this ensemble together in the guise of Boolie, Miss Daisy’s frustrated son. The rapport on stage, between these three actors, is a joy to experience.

David Esbjornson, who directed the play’s West End and Broadway debut, uses a simple set and cleverly enhances this production by integrating lovely underscoring with emotive lighting and projections to create a positively enchanting atmosphere for a tenderly moving tale.

This is possibly the best production to have played at Malvern this year and is definitely worth seeing. Without an interval, it is one and a half hours of uninterrupted indulgence. Driving Miss Daisy runs until Saturday.

Rob Holcroft

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