Always providing their audiences with high class shows Castle Hill Players has raised its own bar even higher with this excellent production of the 1945 Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy HARVEY by Mary Chase.
Harvey is the story of a perfect gentleman, Elwood P. Dowd, played with great grace and style by Chris Lundie, who steals the show with his performance, and his best friend Harvey, — a pooka, a helpful, mythical Celtic creature – in the form of an invisible six-foot plus rabbit called Harvey.
When Elwood however begins introducing Harvey around town, his sister, Veta Louise, played by Leigh Scanlon who expertly brings out the tension and anxiety below the surface, has finally had enough. She and her daughter, the scheming, not so innocent debutante Myrtle Mae, played by Kate Gandy decide to commit Elwood to a sanatorium, especially as he is hurting the chances of Myrtle Mae getting a suitable husband. The play, being a comedy of errors, has Veta committed instead and mayhem ensues.
All the actors are wonderfully cast with Dave Went as the head psychiatrist, William Chumley the perfect up-tight, devious ungentlemanly character to contrast the placid and ever polite Elwood. His assistant Lyman Sanderson, played by Julian Floriano is an ambitious young psychiatrist who shows genuine moments of humanity and romance. Adding humour is the comic orderly Duane Wilson played with great energy and screwball touches by Jason Spindlow.
Jacqui Wilson as Chumley’s nurse Ruth Kelly, disguises her flirtations with Sanderson as hostility and adds a fun side plot. Annette Snars has a brilliant, but brief scene, as society matron Mrs Ethyl Chauvenet, whose poise is destroyed on being introduced to Harvey. Several other small female role all add colour and life to the plot – Penelope Johnson doubles as Chumley’s ever patient wife Betty, and a very strong minded taxi driver. There is a very brief appearance of Sandy Moffat as Miss Johnson.
Expertly directed by Meredith Jacobs, the actors are complemented by the sets, lighting and sound. Elwood’s house and the costumes and hair styles of the women clearly places us in the 1940s and there is a clever turning of the set to reveal the offices of William Chumley.
Even the most dedicated fans of the very popular 1950 film version of the play, starring James Stewart, will not be disappointed by this production – for a thoroughly delightful and heart-warming night at the theatre don’t miss HARVEY from Castle Hill Players [Facebook] until 28 April at the Pavilion Theatre Castle Hill.