‘Daisy’ blossoms in BoarsHead revival

By |2018-01-15T21:16:05-05:00February 5th, 2009|Entertainment|

By D. A. Blackburn

With so much focus on America’s progress towards racial equality these days, it’s easy to gloss over the progress – and the short-comings – of the past. But the BoarsHead Theater’s fresh revival of Alfred Uhry’s “Driving Miss Daisy” is a vivid a reminder, and moreover, it feels as fresh as it did in 1987.
While race is the theme at the forefront of the play, “Daisy” is far more than just a drive down memory lane, glancing at the equality issues that permeated the last century. It is also a heart-warming tale of friendship and aging gracefully. The BoarsHead’s cast dishes all three of these messages out in equal proportion, and this, it seems, is the fountain of youth that keeps “Daisy” rolling smoothly today.
A better pair for the roles of Daisy – a strong-willed southern Jew – and Hoke – her black chauffer – would be hard to find. Carmen Decker and James Bowen are both seasoned thespians, and prove equally adept with Uhry’s mix of sly humor and dramatic tension. Just as Hoke’s folksy charm wins over Daisy, Bowen befriends the audience with a natural warmth. As Daisy’s son Boolie, Bruce Bennett, too, makes an excellent impression.
Decker, however, gives the performance of note in this production. She makes the role wholly her own, with poise and a profound understanding of character.
Unlike the 1989 film adaptation, Uhry’s one act play is staged as a series of quick vignettes, and director Karen Doyle has done a fine job pacing the work. She also utilizes Donald Robert Fox’s attractive set extraordinarily well, moving performers from setting to setting, and through time, quite gracefully.
Though the play is now more than 20 years old, the BoarsHead’s production proves that “Daisy” still has some life left. In these capable hands, the play is as pleasant as a Sunday drive, but it maintains the powerful thematic engine that earned it a Pulitzer Prize for drama.

‘Driving Miss Daisy’
BoarsHead Theater, 425 S. Grand Ave., Lansing. Wed.-Sun. through Feb. 15. Tickets: $12-$30. For information: 517-484-7805 or http://www.boarshead.org

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Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.