BWW Review: DRIVING MISS DAISY'S Quiet Revolution at FAC
Revolution is not always a dramatic thing. Sometimes it's a thing as subtle as a shift in the wind, a butterfly starting the first gust of wind that will grow into a hurricane. Alfred Uhry's Tony, Pulitzer, and Oscar-winning work Driving Miss Daisy is a quiet revolution, a story of the change that occurs gradually over the course of decades, and in its way lays the foundation for larger things.
Hoke (Joseph W. Lane), the chauffer charged with transporting the imperious Miss Daisy (Billie McBride, perfectly ornery) after she crashes her brand-new car, is not part of the Civil Rights Movement that serves as the play's backdrop, but he is a the foundation for it. If he's not a firebrand, than neither is he an Uncle Tom. His querulous, respectful tone is steeled by pride in honest work and an expectation that he will be treated with, if not necessarily equality, then with dignity. His are the shoulders on which the revolutionaries of the younger generation stand.
Neither is Daisy a caricature of ignorant racism. She has her prejudices, of course, in that subtle way of people who preface things they say with "I'm not prejudiced, but..." yet these are not the sum of her character. Daisy, too, is a foundation of strength, having risen from difficult circumstances (as she never tires of reminding people) to give her son Boolie (Steve Emily) the start he needs to be a respected member of community despite the anti-Semitic sentiments surrounding them. Ironically, it is Boolie who, although the youngest character in the play, is the one who most fears change, having become enough of a part of the establishment to fear what may happen if he rocks the boat too much.
Lane and McBride are well matched for this production, each bringing a wry intelligence to the play's comedic first half and expressing a tender, unspoken affection as things get more dramatic. Emily makes a strong impression in a role that might otherwise be relegated to the sidelines; you can tell his Boolie has inherited a fair share of his mother's abrasive personality. Christopher Shelley provides this trio with a concrete, bisected set charmingly framed by an oblong backdrop resembling a windscreen.
Gentle and moving, DRIVING MISS DAISY plays at the Fine Arts Center now through February 21st, Thursdays through Saturdays at 7:30 and Sundays at 2pm. For tickets, contact the box office at 719-634-5581 or visit csfineartscenter.org.