Monday, April 5, 2010

Harvey, Georgetown Palace Theatre, March 26 - April 18

If it weren't for Jimmy Stewart, Mary Chase's gentle comedy Harvey would probably have been forgotten long ago. It's a pretty broad farce about a hysterically pretentious small town woman desperate to avoid the social opprobrium of her unmarried brother's mental delusions.

The local mental clinic Chumley's Rest is one locus of the fun, where blinkered psychiatrists and a muscle-guy attendant think Veta Louise is the nut-case. Brother Elwood P. Dowd serenely accepts their diagnoses while coming cutely close several times to introducing them to his friend Harvey, the invisible rabbit who's six feet tall.

Once all that is straightened out, in the second act Dowd shows with unfailing courtesy that his world-view isn't so bad, the docs offer him and Veta Louise the cure-all of a mysterious injection to return him to reality, and we get some whimsical evidence that maybe Harvey really does exist, after all. Veta faces a 'perils of Pauline' dilemma about whether to embrace reality or the six-foot rabbit that's become increasingly real for her, as well.

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