Friday, 25 November 2011

Theatrical Interlude 19

Driving Miss Daisy, Wyndhams Theatre London, November 2011

This trip came about almost by accident. My normal theatre going companions and I saw a poster for this on one of our other trips to London and all of us instantly said "I love that film". To think is to act and we quickly booked tickets to the first matinee that all three of us could make.

Using our seats were allocated on arrival and while we were quite high up in the theatre we had centre seats and a fabulous view - well once the vertigo had vanished the view was good!

This is a cleverly staged play. As we took our seats the stage was dominated by a large staircase in the middle with assorted items of furniture dotted about, and as the play continues this remains the only staging. However all of these items are on runners and move in and out of the centre stage as the scenes change. Small props are used and it is up to the actors to move them on and off set as needed - it is a very stark play in this way.

The 'car' is a park bench and two dining chairs all set on a revolving part of the stage and as movement is needed for the plot the stage moves and a projection plays in the background. Writing it down makes it sound a little tacky but in fact it worked splendidly as a visual effect - even from the height we were sitting.
The use of projection throughout the play also highlighted the passage of time and managed to give the impression that there was a larger cast.

There are only three actors in the whole play - Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines and all three were superb the day we saw them. It took just a little while for me to get my ear attuned to the deep south accent but very quickly I was swept away and found myself totally immersed into the story, and by the end totally moved.

The play is set in the deep south of America from the late 1940s through until the 1970s and at times the racism and the language used made me uncomfortable but obviously was totally in keeping with the setting. I don't remember it being quite so overt in the film but it has been well over a decade since I last saw the film so this may just be a false memory.

It was a lovely day out and I am very pleased that I got to see this play during the limited London run. It won many awards in New York and I hope that it wins something at the London theatre awards.

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