Home > Entertainment, Theatre > Thought-provoking and uplifting ‘Miss Daisy’

Thought-provoking and uplifting ‘Miss Daisy’

Originally published July 20, 2011 in Bolander Lifestyle & Property

Republished with the kind permission of Cape Community Newspapers

by Carolyn Frost, Editor

Hough and Miss Daisy in the car

I spent a leisurely Sunday afternoon in the genteel company of members of the Helderberg Society for the Aged, as part of the guest audience for the final dress rehearsal of Driving Miss Daisy – which started last night (Tuesday July 19) at The Playhouse Theatre on Lourensford Road, Somerset West.

Directed by Norman McFarlane, and starring newcomers and veterans to the stage, it was with a constricted throat as I watched the tender story unfold of the crotchety, elderly Miss Daisy undergo the transformation from recalcitrant and peevish behaviour at the notion of losing her independence and having to endure a driver invading her sense of space and rocking her composure; and the genial, accommodating Hough September, whose long-suffering yet compassionate sighs of “ja, Miss Daisy” punctuate the canny dialogue and allude to the unfolding respect and fondness that grows between these unlikely characters.

Benjamin, Miss Daisy and the tin of sardines that Hough is supposed to have "stolen".

The script has been perfectly adapted to its Western Cape audience, capturing the nuances that are so familiar to us, and also taking us along an historical narrative that is a chilling reminder of the brutality and suppression and intolerance that characterised this country in a devastating stranglehold for so many years, as it did in its counterpart in the Deep South in America in original version.

The complexities are presented in gentle nuances – the racial boundaries and dictates of 25 years ago; the mildly chiding dialogue between mistress of the home and domestic worker (and yet the undeniable bond of affection that builds over the years, and the devastation that accompanies the inevitable passing on), the mother/son dynamic with its loving loyalty and fierce protection, accompanied by the vexations of infuriating habits or uninspiring spouses; and of course the layers of friendship and insight that are eventually articulated between Miss Daisy and the stolid Hough.

Fury welled up in my chest when the interaction between the boorish, racist policeman occurs along a lonely road – the instant default to disrespect and intimidation when he encounters a man of colour and an old Jewish woman, and his sneering, belligerent manner. And again, when Miss Daisy expresses her bewilderment at the news of the defacing of the temple, and Hough’s stoic response, I was profoundly moved.

Fidelia the housekeeper explains to Hough what he's gotten himself into...

This is a story of good people, of bad times, of courage and tenacity and pragmatism in the face of forces that needed to be endured, because they could not be circumnavigated. And ultimately, what prevails is that spark that is life, love and emotional connection, despite the arbitrary odds.

Herman Hearn, who takes on the role of Macassar’s Hough September, does a sterling job – perfectly capturing the integrity and also acquired submission of a man caught up in that time and place. It is an astonishing accomplishment for someone who is new to the stage. Veteran actress Elizabeth James is a joy to watch, with her pursed lips and prudish attitudes, and her gradual softening and yielding to her gentler, loving nature. Clifford Ekron plays her son Benjamin, dutiful yet  filled with humorous asides, and domestic worker Fidelia Solomons is admirably captured by Lameez Khan, and poignancy of the memorial she receives is an eloquent reminder of the travails that women in her position suffered (and continue to suffer), toiling for long hours for relatively low wages, and having to care for family in the few hours on either side of her working day.

Highly recommended. Tickets available at Computicket, and for performance dates times email hhdsinfo@gmail.com, or visit www.theplayhouse.org.za

Categories: Entertainment, Theatre
  1. Norma Ratcliffe
    July 26, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    It looks fabulous Norman. Shall try and get tickets and come. Norma R

    • July 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

      Hi Norma,
      That would be great. Stop for a drink after the show.

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