Can You Spot The Giant White Rabbit In Harvey?

By Silvia Baretta Last edited 38 months ago
Can You Spot The Giant White Rabbit In Harvey? ★★★★☆ 4
james-dreyfus-amanda-boxer-maureen-lipman-and-ingrid-oliver-in-harvey-photo-by-manuel-harlan.jpg
james-dreyfus-desmond-barrit-jack-hawkins-ingrid-oliver-and-maureen-lipman-in-harvey-photo-by-manuel-harlan.jpg
maureen-lipman-desmond-barrit-and-ingrid-oliver-in-harvey-photo-by-manuel-harlan.jpg

Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆

Elwood P Dowd is a respectable American gentleman who has a very close friend named Harvey. Elwood and Harvey go downtown together, hang out at bars and restaurants, see plays at the theatre and movies at the cinema. Seems normal enough but oh, we should have mentioned: Harvey is an invisible six-foot tall white rabbit.

Desperate to save the family's reputation, Elwood's sister Veta Louise and her daughter Myrtle Mae decide to take Elwood to the local psychiatrist Doctor Chumley for help. But when the psychiatrist decides to commit anxiety-ridden Veta for treatment instead of her brother, things turn into an even more complicated mess.

Staged in London for the first time in 1949 and then in 1975, Harvey now returns under the direction of Lindsey Posner, who has chosen to stage the play with its original script. The Pulitzer Prize-winning play was written back in 1944 by American playwright Mary Chase, who dedicated it to one of her close friends who had lost her husband. It was also made into a popular Hollywood film with James Stewart in 1950.

We found this revival to be a light-hearted tale about personal belief and learning to connect with your own self. Television veteran James Dreyfus is both cheerful and emotionally-layered as Elwood, while everyone's favourite grandma Maureen Lipman plays Veta, perfectly embodying a middle-class woman whose money can't help solve her neurotic problems.

While watching the performance, we noticed Freddie, 7 years old, who seemed to be particularly delighted by the show. He gave us his opinion: "I very much enjoyed this show — my favourite part was when Doctor Chumley was chased by the rabbit." So there you have it: kid-friendly too. Harvey definitely encourages play and fantasy and will no doubt bring out the inner child inside you.

Harvey is on at Theatre Royal Haymarket, 18 Suffolk Street, London SW1Y 4HT — until 2 May. Tickets are £79-£18, you can book yours in advance online. Londonist saw this show on a complimentary press ticket.

Last Updated 24 March 2015

Nick Clark

Saw it on Friday. Brilliant! Well acted by all the cast, especially Maureen Lipman and James Dreyfuss.