York Theatre Royal – until 29th June 2019
Reviewed by Marcus Richardson
Driving Miss Daisy may be known to some as the multi-Oscar Award winning film featuring Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, however this successful 1989 film was originally an off-Broadway production. The show, which features a African-American driver by the name of Hoke Colburn and Daisy Werthan, an old Jewish retired school teacher. Set in in the late 40s and goes on throughout the years as the relationship evolves between the two.
The show features a cast of just three actors playing a character each. I want to start off by saying I was blown away; the stubborn and proud character of Daisy Werthan is bought alive by Paula Wilcox, who creates a relatable, yet at times cold, personality on stage. As we watch how her character develops over the years, Wilcox stole the second act in the show with the character getting older, it was hard to see the actor behind the character even though the character was much older than herself. The play is about the relationship between Hoke and Daisy and it should only be fitting that Maury Richards, who played Hoke did as good of a job as Wilcox. Richards character was warm and hard working, Richards makes sure that the Wilcox and, more importantly her character, are the focus of the play. This works amazing for his character who is happy with his place as a driver. The relationship between the two characters is amazing to watch on stage, especially when the actors work so well together, just to see how Daisy warms up towards Hoke is something sweet and beautiful. The third, and final character is Daisy’s son Boolie Werthan, played by Cory English, although the character isn’t the focus of the play English still does a tremendous job creating a character that helps move the play along and fit alongside the other characters. I was stunned with how all three actors did such good jobs with not just creating characters, but creating relationships on stage. To me that’s what made this show incredible with the focus is on relationships how how they develop over time.
Obviously with a show about driving a car, there may have to be some form of automobile on stage, this show did not disappoint. At the centre of the stage there was this ‘car’ on a turntable which the actors used throughout the play, this wasn’t a real car and the design didn’t hide that fact it wasn’t a real car, a gentle reminder that we are watching a piece of theatre. To show the progression of time and to help as a helpful guide, there were projections of newspapers headlines and other iconic moments throughout the time period at the top of stage.
I didn’t think I was going to like the play as much as I did, but I am so glad I got to watch this masterpiece of acting. I love how the play touches upon issues whilst also not making them the centrepiece of the performance. A thought provoking, genteel show that is calming to watch and pleasant enough not to put anyone off. Would I recommend this show? 100%, if you can’t tell how much I like the show from this review I may as well just stop writing reviews altogether. This performance of Driving Miss Daisy is only at York Theatre Royal until 29th June and is not touring, however it is worth the travel.