Frank Goodloe & Rena Cherry Brown in Driving Miss Daisy. Photo courtesy of CenterStage.
Driving Miss Daisy
By Alfred Uhry
Directed by Sharon Kinnison
Review by Brian Kennedy
Entire contents copyright © 2018 by Brian Kennedy. All rights reserved
With good chemistry but some pacing issues, CenterStage presents the 1988 Pulitzer Prize-winning drama Driving Miss Daisy.
Driving Miss Daisy focuses on the budding relationship between a stubborn older Jewish lady, Miss Daisy (Rena Cherry Brown), and her patient African-American driver Hoke Colburn (Frank Goodloe III), while living in the south between 1948 and 1973. Boolie Werthan (Andy Epstein) is Daisy’s son and the one who hired Hoke to drive Daisy around.
The independent-minded Daisy is, at first, frustrated and refuses to let Hoke drive her anywhere. When she finally relents, there’s a pretty humorous scene (one of the best in the play) where Daisy plays the literal backseat driver, telling Hoke which streets he should have turned down to get to the Piggly Wiggly. Brown and Goodloe’s point-and-counterpoint acting was top notch here, but the “car”, nothing but stools and a bench, needed some serious suspension of disbelief.
As the years go on, the duo drives their way in and out of various situations and moments in each other’s lives. In one scene, Daisy teaches the uneducated Hoke how to read. In another, Hoke helps Daisy calm down as her advancing age begins to affect her mentally.
Lacking a true protagonist versus antagonist structure, the play relies on the interaction of Brown and Goodloe to carry it. Thankfully, they clearly have a natural chemistry with each other and were enjoyable to watch.
At other moments, the pacing was off, though not because of the actors. The transition between scenes took what seemed like forever, especially when the “car” needed to be set up. Also, a scene where Boolie wins an award felt unnecessary.
Epstein’s take on Boolie, by the way, was effective, showcasing genuine care for his mother Daisy as well as in his own burgeoning friendship with Hoke. The only issue was he didn’t appear to age himself as much as Brown and Goodloe did during the 25 years of the play.
While not a standout show, but Driving Miss Daisy, a story about two people from opposite sides of life coming together, is needed, especially in today’s polarized climate. Go see how Brown and Goodloe bridge that gap.
Driving Miss Daisy
Thursday, January 11 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Monday, January 15 at 7:30 p.m.
Thursday, January 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, January 21 at 2 p.m.
Sunday, January 21 at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets are $22 in advance, $24 on Saturday night and Sunday matinees, $24 “at the door” charge
Jewish Community Center
3600 Dutchman’s Lane
Louisville, Kentucky 40205
Brian Kennedy is a nearly life-long Louisville resident who has performed in plays since 2004. He also wrote extensively about the Louisville theatre scene for Louisville.com and Examiner.com from 2009-2015. Currently, he maintains the theatre blog LouBriantheater. When not involved in the theatre scene, he is an avid runner, participating in 5Ks throughout the state and in southern Indiana.