Harvey

Date 6th December 2022
Society The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Venue The Green Room Theatre, Wilmslow
Type of Production Play
Director Sonia Dykstra

Report

Author: Steph Niland

It is always thrilling to arrive at The Green Room to watch a play – its members utilise and adapt the venue so beautifully, it is always intriguing to enter the space and see how they will have set it up this time.

For Harvey in December, they had set it with the audience on 2 sides, a traverse stage. Working in a less conventional manner is exciting but must pose so many challenges for the design and directorial team. It was in experienced and clever hands of Sonia Dykstra and that is why it was so successful. The placing of the set was spot on, the blocking of the cast was executed so well, there was no moment that we felt we didn’t experience the action correctly or engage with the dialogue. Not once did we question the lay out or movement of any character – and being so close to the performance space and with a play possibly written for a more conventional proscenium arch approach, this is a fabulous achievement.

A quick word about the set - this was a collection of meticulously chosen pieces and props arranged perfectly to portray only a couple of interiors. The handling of the props and the attention given to the proper use of them was appreciated and enjoyed. The set changes from the library of the Dowd mansion to the reception of Chumley’s Rest was excellently choreographed, I think the audience may have even applauded the scene shifters – deservedly so.

Complementing the high standard of the design and direction was the very capable cast. A couple of shaky moments and prompts aside, this was a tight and talented team, who knew how to handle the pace and humour of this piece.

Veta Louise Simmons played by Victoria Johnson was fabulously fraught and frenetic. Victoria found all the humour and gave herself over to the role brilliantly. Always so clearly articulated, you feel completely safe in Victoria’s performances and interpretations. Well done.

A nice contrast to Veta was her daughter, the role of Myrtle Mae Simmons portrayed by Scarlet Newton. A calm and measured performance which mollified Veta, yet she was still a strong-willed young woman showing she meant business. A competent actress. It will be nice to see more of her.

The way in which the role of Elwood is played is pivotal to the success of the whole play. It can’t be over played, or “knowing” or even played “unstable”. Ian Tyler gave us none of those traits, his Elwood was aimable, gently witty, and completely genuine. Benevolence oozed from him, and you were legitimately drawn to him as all the characters in the play were. The delivery was spot on and the twinkly facial expressions just delightful. A pleasure to watch.  

What a fun scene with Mrs Ethel Chauvenet played by Diana Boswell, a small role played to the full and beautifully executed and very in keeping with the whole feel of Harvey. Well done.

The Chumley Rest staff all played so smartly, stuffily, and uber efficient to begin with, and who later soften and become frivolous and more human either under the influence Elwood’s mild-mannered charm or the comedy of errors that ensued were a competent team.

 

Christine Unwin as Ruth Kelly RN and Fred Donnan as Lyman Sanderson MD were a great double act. Their interpretation and relationship were reminiscent of so many films of the period, it was a gorgeous thing to watch. There were some great moments from both, coming in the form of a wonderful misunderstanding between Dr Sanderson and Veta Simmons, the way it unfolded was highly amusing and Fred’s facial expressions were priceless and the melting of the rational and sensible Nurse Kelly under Elwood’s spell was a joy to behold.

Suitably righteous and pompous was William R Chumley MD played by Richard Sails. Particularly entertaining were the scenes where he concludes that he too sees the pooka but wants to keep the fact a secret, lovely transition played aptly. Congratulations!

The gruff Duane Wilson was fittingly played by the towering Jon White, nicely cast in this role. The purposeful striding entrances and exits raised many smiles.  

There were some lovely turns by Linda Batson as charming and charmed Mrs Betty Chumley, Steve Williamson as, the voice of reason, Judge Omar Gaffney and Ewan Henderson as the down to earth cabby whose line about normal human beings brought the house down. All proficiently played and all shone in their moments under the light.  

An extremely well-cast, well rounded, well produced piece from The Green Room once again. A wonderfully funny production full of laugh out loud instances, sentiment and moments of true audience engagement due to excellent characterisation.

Only one cast member left to mention…Harvey…faultless!