Harvey @ The Spring, Havant
Elwood P Dowd and his six foot tall pooka pal Harvey are bothering their family. While they blame the invisible giant rabbit and assume Elwood is crazy, perhaps it’s his relentlessly sunny worldview that is really bothering them!
Humdrum are back at The Spring with Mary Chase’s classic story of a man comfortable in his own skin and how confusing that is for the people around him.
Director Caz Gilmore wisely focuses on the personalities of the sometimes crudely drawn characters in the play, allowing her actors to exaggerate themselves to offset the calm contentment of Ben Counter’s jovial Mr Dowd. His calm demeanour and earnest (no pun intended) wish to befriend everyone he meets are heart-warming and Counter exudes this warmth perfectly, bringing charisma and tenderness to the role. He sells us the existence of Harvey with every pause in conversation, glance and knowing nod.
Counter is surrounded by a hugely able cast who revel in the opportunity to take their characters over the top. Sheila Elsdon’s turn as Elwood’s high-society sister is a glorious highlight as she somehow finds herself caught up in trying to have her brother sectioned.
A particular delight is Sally Evans’ Miss Johnson. The maid doesn’t have many words to offer us but says so much with every roll of the eyes and shrug – a wonderful example of how much can be conveyed without words!
A well designed set is used excellently, with a number of lovely little touches of decoration. Unfortunately such intricacy comes at the cost of a drawn out set change when we move from sitting room to psychiatrist’s office but the flow is soon resumed.
Harvey may have a whiff of the old-fashioned about its story of a man who is judged by all those around him simply for having found a way to be happy is one that still rings true and the charm of the script, the cast and the direction make it shine!