Court Theatre Presents HARVEY Review – Equal to the Film Classic

Court Theatre HARVEY
Karen Janes Woditsch as socialit Veta Louise Simmons, sister of Elwood P. Dowd who has a six-foot imaginary rabbit friend Photo: Michael Brosilow

Court Theatre transports us to 1940’s America

Walking into the Court Theatre you are transported into the living room of Elwood P. Dowd’s glorious mansion designed by Courtney O’Neill (scenic design) enhanced by the lighting design of Lee Keenan to encapsulating you in the magical and whimsical play Harvey.

This American Pulitzer Prize winning classic by Mary Chase is centered around Elwood P. Dowd, a pleasant man with a unique friend, Harvey—who happens to be an invisible, six-foot, three-inch tall rabbit. Elwood embraces Harvey in his life and introduces him to everyone he meets, thoroughly embarrassing his social-climbing sister, Veta. Questioning his sanity, she decides to have him committed to a sanitarium, but nothing goes quite according to plan. The search is on for the mild-mannered Elwood and his unseen companion.

Izumi Inaba’s costume design enhances the design esthetic created by director Devon de Mayo. The three quarter thrust staging engages the audience in every aspect of the place with the much anticipated arrival of “Harvey.”   The cast of veteran actors leaves you laughing and wondering where the time has gone. Timothy Edward Kane is Elwood P. Dowd and by the end of the performance, you will think he is your new best friend as he wins over each and every character in the play.   Sarah Price as niece Myrtle Mae Simmons and Karen Janes Woditsch as his sister Veta Louise Simmons drive the production whimsy as they try to figure out what to do with Elwood. You will have fun not seeing Harvey, or do you?

Mental Health and Alcoholism

Harvey is a comedy of errors but is also a subtle look at mental health and alcoholism. Set in the 1940’s, we see how, even in farce, those with mental illness were not always treated humanely. Andy Nagraj’s portrayal of tough hospital aide Duane Wilson will make you understand how far we have come. It is a taxi cab driver played by Amy Carle that gets Elwood’s sister Veta to wonder if she should have her brother be given an injection that will turn him normal. She tells Veta she has driven many people here and they come out being "perfectly normal human being, and you know what bastards they are!” She questions if Elwood would lose his mild manner and carefree heart.

Harvey is a pooka, which in Irish folklore brings both bad and good luck. Watching the play as an adult, I began to wonder if Harvey appears to only those who have had a long night of drinking. Veta is asked many times about Elwood’s drinking habits and vice versa. The questions as a subtle commentary.

As Good as the Movie Classic

Watching the play directed by Devon de Mayo, it is hard not to make comparisons to the much loved Jimmy Stewart version. This production stands on its own and you will fall for Timothy Edward Kane much like we did for Jimmy Stewart.

 

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

 

Note: This is now added to the Picture this Post round up of BEST PLAYS IN CHICAGO. Click here to read — Top Picks for Theater in Chicago NOW – Chicago Plays PICTURE THIS POST Loves.

When:

Thru June 11

Thursdays:    7:30 p.m.
Fridays: 8:00 p.m.
Saturdays: 3:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.
Sundays: 2:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

 

Where:

 

Court Theatre
5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Chicago

Tickets:        

$48+

To obtain tickets, please visit the Courth Theatre Box Office at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago or call (773) 753-4472 or visit the Court Theatre website. www.CourtTheatre.org.

 

Photos: Michael Brosilow

Photo: Al Zayed

About the Author:

Ellyzabeth Adler is a multidisciplinary artist working in the genre of "Tanztheatre," weaving together theatre, dance, film, spoken word, and music. As founder of Chicago Danztheatre Ensemble (CDE) she has dedicated herself to forming partnerships with artists of all genres and generations to create unique, dynamic, engaging, and meaningful ensemble performances.Ellyzabeth earned a BFA in Performing Arts, with a minor in Broadcast Journalism at Roosevelt University. In 2000 she earned a Masters of Arts in Directing and Movement; as her thesis she developed CDE’s techniques for creating multidisciplined, kinesthetic, and socially engaging theatre.  She has created and/or collaboratively adapted, directed and choreographed 10 full-length works including: T.S Eliot’s The Wasteland; Ever Your Own; Edgar; The Yellow Wallpaper; This Is Not A Pipe; Bindis and Bruises; and Touch and Mirrors - one-act plays based on the work of the Persian poet, Rumi. She has also created and choreographed over a dozen concert-length works focused on women’s issues, the female  body, suicide, the human condition, and pathways to enlightenment.

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