Look Out Jimmy Stewart: Barnstormers’ Harvey May be the New Classic
To paraphrase Elwood P. Dowd, “You have to be smart or pleasant. I spent years being smart, but I recommend pleasant.” Pleasant. That is the best word to describe Elwood P. Dowd, and the best word to describe the performance of Harvey at Barnstormers Theatre in Grants Pass.
Many have seen and connected with the film adaptation of Harvey from 1950, starring James Stewart, though it was originally written as a play by Mary Chase in 1944, winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1945. The plot centers around Elwood, an easygoing, delightful middle aged man who lives off of his mother’s estate and his seemingly concocted best friend—an invisible, six-foot, three-and-a-half inch tall white rabbit who only he can hear. He spends all of his time with “Harvey,” most of which is at bars around town, with the goal of spending time with friends, mostly new. This causes no little amount of embarrassment to his sister, Veta and niece, Myrtle Mae. Veta has had enough of Elwood introducing Harvey to her friends, and first declares that she will commit Elwood to the local sanitarium, then that he will at least take an injection that will stop his “hallucinations” and make him a “regular” person. But in the end, she decides that dealing with Harvey isn’t that bad, and she prefers her brother to be the carefree, caring person that he has always been.
Barnstormers’ own Theatre Manager Wayd Drake plays Elwood, and to an even more pleasant effect than Mr. Stewart. As per usual, Jimmy’s drawl can come off as lazy, while Drake plays the part with purpose and, well, pleasantness. Co-starring with Drake is Barnstormers’ veteran Tricia Drevets, who plays Veta, with an equally pleasant performance. Additionally, the set was very well done, especially considering the transition between an elegant parlor and a sterile waiting room.
Barnstormers’ Harvey not only takes a person back to yesteryear, when things just seemed more, well, pleasant, but also reminds the viewer of the simpler and more important aspects of this life.
2 and 7:30 pm, through February 7
Barnstormers Theatre, 112 NE Evelyn Ave, Grants Pass