Theater Reviews by Morna

Morna Martell

This month I have found two more great stage plays brought to you live, on film, via BroadwayHD. However, I must confess, I am also hooked on the BBC-TV series “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” starring Jeremy Brett, with 41 hour-long episodes available on You Tube for Free!

DRIVING MISS DAISY. – 2014 – Australia 

In 1987, when I was Theater Critic for The Hollywood Reporter, I reviewed this gentle play when it opened Off Broadway, with Dana Ivey and Morgan Freeman, then went on to win The Pulitzer Prize for Drama. There have been countless productions worldwide, and an excellent film with Jessica Tandy and Morgan Freeman, but this stage production, recorded in Australia, is not to be missed.

Why? Because it stars Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones! Yes, they are what makes this so special. As Lansbury, 88, commented at the time, “The great thing about theatre, you see, is that it’s all about illusion. At my age, I’m too old to play a 72-year old in the movies. But on stage with makeup, I can!” Said Jones, “I have two favorite characters, Lennie in “Of Mice and Men” and the chauffeur in “Driving Miss Daisy.” They’re both men without language: they have to start from scratch when it comes to communicating. As a result, what they say comes from deep within.”

Inspired by the actual long-term relationship between playwright Alfred Uhry’s Jewish grandmother and her African American chauffeur, this classic play is timeless, and an ultimately hopeful meditation on race relations in America. It’s told through the complex relationship between a 72-year old woman, and a 60-year old man, in Atlanta, throughout the Civil Rights Movement. It’s over 30 years since it was written but its’ examination of issues around race still resonate.

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