Fringe Box



Review: Driving Miss Daisy – Yvonne Arnaud

Published on: 13 Oct, 2012
Updated on: 13 Oct, 2012

By The Stage Dragon

Driving Miss Daisy was the production of Yvonne Arnaud’s season so far, and it is going to be tough to beat. The audience were treated to an absolutely flawless performance of a story, sure to have touched even the most hardened critic.

The show is stopping at the Yvonne Arnaud as part of a national tour, and stars Gwen Taylor, Ian Porter and Don Warrington in the lead (and only) roles. The play is set in the deep American south, and describes the unlikely friendship between an elderly Jewish woman (Miss Daisy) and her hired chauffeur Hoke Coleburn.

When Miss Daisy crashes her car, her long suffering but loyal son decides she needs a chauffeur. Although she is at first reluctant to give up her independence and have to rely on someone else, the partnership deepens into a touching friendship and both Hoke and Miss Daisy realise they both truly value and need each other, especially as they both deal with the troubling infirmities that come with old age.

Gwen Taylor Miss Daisy and Don Warrington Hoke Coleburn

The story is slowly paced and prefers to focus on the little subtleties in life rather than sweeping dramatic moments. This is despite being set to a backdrop of the volatile civil rights movement. However it is this focus on the individual human experience that makes it all the more thought provoking. The writing also had moments of gentle humour which the audience enjoyed.

Gwen Taylor gave a wonderful performance as Miss Daisy, seamlessly portraying her progression from a stubborn, bossy matriarch bursting with character to a frail old woman, distressed and frightened by the deterioration of her body and mind.

Don Warrington was equally captivating as Hoke Coleburn. He touched the audience as a caring and patient companion, never complaining to Miss Daisy’s many demands and whims, but also with a constant twinkle in his eye and dry sense of humour. Especially impressive about Warrington’s performance was his convincing deep south drawl, a contrast to his natural well spoken accent.

Don Warrington with Ian Porter who plays Boolie

Ian Porter, gave a performance that was adept, impressive and very amusing as Miss Daisy’s son Boolie, who has to look out for his eccentric mother.

The set was imaginative and creative, and although the furniture never changed position, lighting and subtle re-arranging of props allowed it to represent many different locations. Videos of current events played between the scenes, projected onto the back wall of the stage, which helped the audience understand the events which were shaping the story.

The theatre was packed and when the play ended, the audience gave a thunderous round of applause. The play was impossible to fault and the only disappointment was that it couldn’t stay in Guildford for longer.

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