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HARVEY” IS HOPPING  IN PALO ALTO

By Iride Aparicio


Photos by: Joyce Goldschmid
L-R   EVAN MICHAEL SCHUMACHER and HARVEY
L-R   EVAN MICHAEL SCHUMACHER and HARVEY

PALO ALTO, CA – It is not difficult for the audience to understand the play HARVEY.  After all, as children, many of us played and talked all day with an “imaginary” friend.  But the pleasant eccentric bachelor, Elwood P. Dowd’s ( EVAN MICHAEL SCHUMAKER) imaginary friend, may look a lot more different than those we imagined. To start with, he is 6’3’’ feet tall, is covered with white fur, and it has two long ears. The worwse case is that he may not be imaginary.  He is actually a talking rabbit who may be a POOKA ( an Irish fairy who can adopt among many others, the  form of a horse, a small deformed goblin or a huge hairy bogeyman who terrifies people at night. The POOKA, has also the power of human speech and it is said that, at times, calls the names of the owners of the houses by name, and if they do not answer, the POOKA vandalizes their houses.

But Harvey, as Elwood calls his rabbit, is not like that. Harvey is silent, to all, except Elwood, and also invisible, to almost everyone, So, when Dowd  is with his “friend” he carries all the conversation.

His eccentricity annoys his sister, Veta Louise Simmons (MARY PRICE MOORE)  and his niece Myrtle Mae (ALISON KOCH`) her daughter, who share with him the house he inherited from their late mother. So one day, both mother and daughter decide to intern poor Elwood in a Sanatorium and rent his house.

  Front ALISON KOCH & MARY PRICE MOORE
Front ALISON KOCH & MARY PRICE MOORE

And that is how the play’s  “conflict”  start,  because when Elwood’s sister Veta  goes to the clinic to talk with the psychiatrist, about Elwood and Harvey, things do not work as she had planed.

Written by the American playwright MARY CHASE in l944 HAREY premiered on Broadway on November 1st on the 48th Street theatre of that year. A year later Chase received the Pulitzer Prize for the drama. A Broadway revival at the ANTA theatre starred JAMES  STEWART  and HELEN HAYS. The play ran from February to May of l970.  There is also movie version of the play.

In this version of HARVEY,  SCHUMACHER who plays the role of Elwood  is charming playing his part. His overall acting is very natural. The audience like him. Natural too in her acting is PRICE MOORE as his sister. We believe that she is real. On opening night   NICOLE MARTIN, gave us a charming impersonation of Ruth Kelly, the Nurse.  While John Musgrave also impersonated convincingly his William R. Chumley M.D.J. the top psychiatrist. So convincingly, that he give us the impression that he too saw Harvey and talked with the rabbit himself.

 EVAN MICHAEL SCHUMACHER & JOHN MUSGRAVE
EVAN MICHAEL SCHUMACHER & JOHN MUSGRAVE

As Myrtle Mae, ALISON KOCH needed to tune down her performance at  times. On that night, it switched from natural to over exaggerated in some scenes.  SCOTT SOLOMON played a charming Dr. Lyman Sanderson.  In character were ROBERTA MORRIS as Mrs. Ethel Chauvenet, and TOM FARLEY as Judge Omar Gaffney. The play has a good cast.

Directed by JEANIE K SMITH, the action of the play moved smoothly. The comedy, was played well, the audience laughed at the "right" places. The sets of RON GASPARINETTI, were creative, specially as we can see them changing, in seconds, in front of our eyes and become completely different.

As a comedy, HARVEY, is a funny, entertaining play. Ideal for the whole family, which let us wondering at the end. Is Harvey real? We need to see the play ourselves to determine it.

For more information and tickets visit www.papayers.org or call 650-329 0891.