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Review Roundup: West End's DRIVING MISS DAISY

Two-time Tony Award® winner James Earl Jones (Hoke Coleburn), Tony and Oscar® winner Vanessa Redgrave (Daisy Werthan) and four-time Tony Award® winner Boyd Gaines (Boolie Werthan)  star in the critically acclaimed production of Driving Miss Daisy, at the Wyndham's Theatre from until 17 December. The play, written by Alfred Uhry and directed by David Esbjornson, enjoyed a record breaking sell-out run on Broadway until 9 April this year. Design is by John Lee Beatty, costumes by Jane Greenwood, lighting is by Peter Kaczorowski , music by Mark Bennett and sound by Christopher Cronin. Driving Miss Daisy is being produced in the West End by Jed Bernstein and Adam Zotovich.

Driving Miss Daisy was written by Alfred Uhry in 1987 and debuted Off-Broadway at the Playwrights Horizons Theater. Two years later the play was made into a film with Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy. Uhry received an Oscar® for ‘Best Adapted Screenplay' while the film was awarded ‘Best Picture'.

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Michael Billington, The Guardian: But, whatever the play's limitations, it has long been a gold-wrapped gift for actors and so it proves here. Redgrave, in particular, demonstrates her consummate artistry. She reminds us, from the start, of the septuagenarian Miss Daisy's schoolteaching past by her habit of treating her son and employee as if they were recalcitrant pupils. And there's a piece of pure Redgrave poetry when, learning that her accusation that Hoke has pinched a tin of salmon is totally groundless, she scoops up a trashcan with a fluid balletic movement as if to suggest that her airy insouciance could act as a form of exculpation.

Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard: Redgrave suggests the imperiousness of Miss Daisy without overstating it. While she may not sound quite like the stubborn Atlanta matron she's meant to be, she captures the character's mood perfectly - especially the way she discovers prejudices in herself that she had reached her seventies without recognising. She's also funny, as when she poses like Zorro to challenge Hoke about a can of salmon she thinks he has stolen.

Charles Spencer, Daily Telegraph: And the great American actor James Earl Jones is every bit as fine as her patient, kind and long-suffering black chauffeur, Hoke Colburn. Watching these two, you are left in no doubt that you are witnessing acting of greatness. Their developing relationship is caught with detail, depth and persuasive emotional truth.

Libby Purves, The Times:  Both principals age very movingly, Redgrave unforgettably occupying the final wheelchair with blue eyes flashing above a toothless cackle as her elderly cavalier feeds her. It's the first time I've heard a round of applause for just a mouth being opened.

Michael Coveney, Whatsonstage: Too many cooks may spoil this broth, with some 19 producers listed above the title. This is "event" theatre without a happening, "masterpiece" culture without a beating heart, and the sort of sentimental old-fashioned fare that is liable to get routine jukebox musicals, in comparison, a good name.


Photo Credit: Annabel Clark


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