Frinton : Driving Miss Daisy

Driving Miss Daisy: Alfred Uhry, Frinton Summer Theatre until SaturdayAlfred Uhry's Pulitzer winning play is the gentlest of comedies, the story of a warm friendship, which grows out unlikely beginnings.

Driving Miss Daisy: Alfred Uhry, Frinton Summer Theatre until Saturday

Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer winning play is the gentlest of comedies, the story of a warm friendship, which grows out of unlikely beginnings. The understated backcloth is the post-war black civil rights years in the US Southern states.

It was a time when blacks and Jews living in Atlanta faced a dangerous racist hostility. As a Jewish Southerner, Uhry explores the theme with a keen insight. Known historical events, however, only occasionally impinge directly on the action, and that's a strength. Our concern is with the two people involved. Philip Weaver's Frinton production makes its point with both a twinkle and a tear in its eye.

The concept of a relationship, stretching over a quarter of century, between an elderly Jewish widow and her black chauffeur is a masterstroke. Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman played the roles in the Oscar winning film, Phillipa Urquhart and Geoff Aymer play them here.


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Miss Daisy is cantankerous and independently minded. Never a Lewis Hamilton, her latest motoring mishap makes her son, Boolie (Philip Benjamin), finally decide that her days at the wheel are over.

He insists that she should have someone to drive her around. Though Miss Daisy is adamant that she doesn't need or want a driver, Boolie hires an ageing out-of- work poor black, Hoke.

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Icy is hardly the word for her attitude at first. She won't let Hoke drive her anywhere. Then after six days - as long as it took God to make the world, Hoke remarks - she at last takes a drive with him, demanding that he keeps to about half the speed limit.

They are worlds apart, and Daisy would prefer it to stay that way. Slowly, however she gets get used to him, warms to him. Over the years - we see them all greying scene by scene - she comes to depend on him.

There's a sweet moment when she holds his hand and tells him he is her best friend. It's taken more than two decades but it a true bond.

This calls for sensitive gentle playing from Phillipa Urquhart and Geoff Aymer, and we get just that. Geoff Aymer is a revelation as Hoke. Quiet, clever, he delivers the witty lines especially well when he's politely exasperated at Miss Daisy's bizarre commands.

It's a quiet play about a couple who have more in common than they will admit. The playing is well judged, moving but never mawkish. A warming night's theatre.

Ivan Howlett

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