Jim Parsons And A 6'3" Rabbit In Harvey: My Review

Categories: Theater

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Harvey is Mary Chase's 1944 play about the need for companionship and the power of the imagination to combat banality.

Elwood P. Dowd is a man who has checked out of reality and opted for pleasantness, hanging out--at bars and other places--with a tall "pooka" in the form of an affable rabbit named Harvey that apparently only he can see.

As his sister Veta Louise tries to get him committed to a sanitarium--and finds herself getting locked up instead--the gently charming play has everyone acting looney in reaction to Elwood's supposed insanity, while he sails through it all with a smile and a handshake.

It's thin stuff and difficult to pull off because a lot of the action happens offstage and is merely recounted, but this production has moments, while not really soaring into the absurdist yet warming stratosphere.

Jim Parsons has the right earnest, bemused decency as Elwood, making you believe he believes while conversing with what looks like thin air.

But Jessica Hecht is strange casting as Veta Louise. Hecht is an excellent actress, but she's best at sensible, analytical roles, not ones that call for being daftly flustered.

(The pseudo aristocratic accent she goes for here sounds especially forced.)

Fortunately, she--like the whole production--gets better in the second half, especially when she unravels while noticing, to her dismay, that her mother's portrait on the wall has been covered by one involving Harvey.

Her scream is a scream.

Still, maybe Carol Kane--who plays the doctor's wife in an oddly paced but aptly wacky scene--should have switched roles with Hecht?

Oh, well, one can only imagine.

Meanwhile, this is a decently entertaining, if not transcendent, glimpse into the horror of normalcy.

Maybe it can be turned into a musical called Hare.


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10 comments
Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Helen Hayes was wonderful, the only time I saw her onstage. The scene where she describes the indignities heaped upon her at the sanitarium, her costume, hairdo and person in complete disarray, was truly, genuinely hilarious. She played a real, small-town dowager, completely unlike her "cute," twinkly little old ladies she later played over and over again in movies and TV. She played the character, as written, with sparks of genius.

Musto
Musto

How was Helen Hayes? She won the Tony for that.

Starkers
Starkers

I am amazed that today's NY Times review said Harvey is "imaginary." It's quite clear in the play that he's real, just unseen except by Elwood.

Southern Dave
Southern Dave

Saw Jimmy Stewart and Helen Hayes in the Broadway revival in what? 1970,' 71? Jesse White re-created his stage and screen role of the sanitarium attendant  who consults a  dictionary on what a "Pooka" is and gets a surprise. I love this pixilated play and how its gentle humor builds to hilarity.

Guest
Guest

"It's a Musto avoid"

bitchtrollfromhell
bitchtrollfromhell

"it's a must to avoid, a complete impossibility, it's a must to avoid, better take it from me!" (sung to the tune of  "A Must to Avoid" by Herman's Hermits)

Parker
Parker

It's not just you. Jim is the cutest.

Mae Swazey
Mae Swazey

I'd love to see this.  Some friends saw it on its opening (preview) night and said the play and Parsons were great.  Is it just me or does anyone else think Jim is adorable? P.S. HARE!  Michael you are wonderful!  (Jane Hathaway laugh)

Oil
Oil

Frank Fay was the original Elwood on Broadway. The Jimmy Stewart movie is very good. Josephine Hull won an Oscar as his sister.

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