Monday, July 9, 2012

Harvey: A Giant Bunny but Petite Laughs

Sometimes I find writing reviews to be a total pleasure (see for example the wonderful Mr. Burns). because I want to share my joy over the experience with someone else.  And this one, I have been dreading because I am bored as much by my review as I was with the show.

About fifteen minutes into Harvey I said to myself, "Damn I wish this was Arsenic and Old Lace."  I've never seen AaOL on stage but having seen the film versions of Harvey and AaOL.  I was always partial to Arsenic because it was much more of a dark comedy, with crazy hijinks and some wonderful performances.  Harvey on the other hand was always a bit treacly for me.

The stage version of Harvey is still sugary-sweet but lacks the daffiness and memorable performances.  It felt very much like dated Capra-corn without the deft hand of Capra.

Jim Parsons is Elwood P. Dowd, a rich bachelor who spends his days in barrooms talking to everyone he meets and hanging out with a 6 foot tall+ rabbit named Harvey.   His scheming sister Veta Louise (Jessica Hecht) and niece Myrtle Mae (Tracie Chimo) try to get him committed so they can inherit his home and funds and they will no longer live in embarrassment of their unpredictable relative.  Veta Louise attempts to convince Dr. Sanderson (Morgan Spector) that Elwood is crazy.  But Sanderson thinks that Veta is the ill one and has her committed instead.  Once his mistake is figured out, Veta is let loose but Elwood can't be found and the hospital staff go looking for their lost charge. 

Act One was a major slog.  Jessica Hecht put upon some sort of vocal affectation.  The result was truly bizarre.  The frenzied reaction that is supposed to get her thrown into the psych ward was so muted that the doctor's conclusion that she's crazy seems all the more crazy.  The "comedy" and hijinks of Act One was just dull and plodding.  Things picked up a bit in Act Two as the characters face real consequences and the meaning behind their actions have more weight.  But it was a long road to those points.  And there were some great actors in this cast left to flounder with this material (Charles Kimbrough!!!,Carol Kane).

Jim Parsons was fine in the role.  I just did not care for the material.   I did not find it funny or moving.  I was mostly bored.  The cast of this show is far too talented to be having to tell this stupid old story 8 times a week.  And you are a dear for even bothering to read this.

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