By: Ronnie Ruff
Driving Miss Daisy
NobleHeart Repertory Company
One of the wisest things a small theatre company can do and one of the hardest lessons to learn is not to over reach. It is far too easy to forget the limitations that come with a modest budget and smaller stage. Failure to heed this oft forgotten concept many times leads to the miscalculations and pitfalls that can sink an otherwise fine production.
Sheila Draper as Miss Daisy and Art Greene as Hoke, her soft spoken driver, are able to focus the attention of the audience solely on their characters and developing friendship. Even the scenes driving to and from the Piggly Wiggly are well done with just two chairs and a few hand movements. Mr. Greene gives a wonderful, sensitive performance that gathers strength as the play progresses. Ms. Draper by contrast seems less comfortable with her role and is unable to bring the necessary haughty southern manner to her character although by the final scene you are in love with her none the less. . John Hamilton Jr. as Boolie (Daisy’s son) is successful in adding some southern charm and flair that is an important part of Afred Uhry’s vision of a changing south.
Director Craig Hower succeeds in getting the most from his cast and and space without extending into territory best left out of bounds. While working within the limitations and functionality of a black box the production spotlights the characters and not staging. . Truly minimal, Hower’s set consists of a small desk, two telephones and a few chairs, a perfect example of less is more. Mr. Hower is able to make the most of Indian Head’s stage with thoughtful spacing of scenes and well placed props. All the costumes are effectively conceived from Miss Daisy’s fanciful hats to Boolie’s bright floral tie and lightweight summer suit. Lighting and sound design were functional, not adding or taking anything from the production.
While this production does not add anything fresh to productions that have come before — it is an example of how a smaller company can make the best of the minimal tools at their disposal and still be very entertaining. If you like intimate plays with lots of heart Driving Miss Daisy may be your next theatre ride.