Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Harvey by Mary Chase (1945)

Summary:  Veta Dowd attempts to have her brother Elwood committed because he has an “imaginary friend” named Harvey—a rabbit who stands at over six feet tall.  Antics ensue involving Mrs. Dowd’s involuntary accidental committal to the asylum.  Ultimately, the head psychiatrist (Dr. Chumley) begins to see Harvey as well. 

Thoughts:  Because I have seen the 1950 film, Elwood’s lines echoed in my head in the voice of Jimmy Stewart—not an all-together unpleasant reading experience.   Somehow, the cruelty of humans towards each other seemed much more apparent in this play than in the film, perhaps due to the unlikeable self-obsessed character of young Myrtle (Elwood’s niece).

In their brief introduction, Gassner/Barnes reveal that, in the staging of the play, the choice to make Harvey invisible was simply because the director couldn’t figure out how to put a six-foot rabbit on stage without looking ridiculous.

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