Essay, Research Paper: Harvey Play

Theater

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The play was first presented in the early 40’s. It is also set in this time
period. It is a very care-free, take your mind off of your worries comedic work.
The main character, Elwood P. Dowd, has a invisible friend, a pooka named
Harvey, who accompanies him during his daily activities. A pooka is a mythical
creature who appears here and there, where ever it pleases, and to whoever it
pleases. In this case, the pooka has taken the form of a rabbit who is six feet,
one and a half inches tall. Mr. Dowd lives in a large mansion with his sister,
Veta Louise Simmons, and her daughter Myrtle May Simmons. Mr. Dowd’s family
does not see Harvey at first, but they Elwood interacting and talking to Harvey.
They become extremely worried about him seeing an imaginary rabbit and him
spending all of his time with someone who doesn’t even exist. As difficult and
humiliating as it is for her, Veta Louise is forced to take Mr. Dowd to
Chumley’s Rest, an psychiatric facility on the outskirts of town where he can
receive treatments for his problems. This faculty was founded by renowned
psychiatrist William R. Chumley, MD. Dr. Chumley only sees few cases when time
permits. Veta Louise, as any good sister would, only wants the best for her
brother and insist that Dr. Chumley handle this case personally. His assistant,
Miss Kelly, denies this request, but reassures Veta Louise that her brother will
receive top quality attention. She is referred to Dr. Lyman Sanderson, MD, a
doctor who also practices out at Chumley’s Rest. Veta Louise describes her
situation and Elwood’s case to Dr. Sanderson, but as she is doing so, she
becomes hysterical. Dr. Sanderson suspects that Veta Louise is the one that is
suffering from some sort of mental illness and that she is projecting her
problems onto Elwood, but he plays it cool so she won’t suspect that he has
figured her out. He excuses himself from the room for a moment, to get an
orderly to help him with this crazy women. They get her locked and put in the
hydro-room in an effort to calm her down. It isn’t until later that Chumley
figures out the truth that a “sane” woman has been locked up and Mr. Dowd
has eluded them. This is one summary of a scene from “Harvey”. I wasn’t
able to actually see the play for myself, because I worked behind the scene for
the play. I saw enough of it from where I was to write an educated critique on
it. The story-line and plot of the play are very good and I believe that the
playwright would have been well pleased with Campbell’s production of this
play. First thing the audience noticed when they entered the theater was the
elaborate set. The set was put together well and extremely realistic. The first
set was of the library in the Dowd mansion. The other set was in Chumley’s
rest in a reception area. My favorite set was the library. That is the one that
I help construct and set-up during the actual play. During the construction of
the set, I assisted in the painting and prop placement work that was needed to
complete a realistic appearance of a library. It is also my favorite because it
was the more life-like set. I also liked the offstage areas for this scene,
because they added to the realism of this set. During the play, I moved the desk
from behind the sofa and moved the flap on the moving wall, so that the library
scene couldn’t be seen on stage while the play was at Chumley’s Rest. Also,
toward the end of the play, Harvey goes on stage through a door. I was in charge
of the opening and closing of the door. Those were my contributions to
“Harvey”. As for the cast of the play, I believe the characters were well
represented, considering the small amount of actors available at our school. My
favorite cast member was Dr. Chumley himself. He was full of his character and
full of life every night of the play. He played a good doctor and I believe that
the Chumley he presented was the Chumley that the playwright had envisioned.
Elwood Dow was also well casted. His appearance and his mannerisms were very
similar to the actor who played this part in the movie “Harvey”. The
character that I thought could use a little work was Duane Wilson. He didn’t
act like he was really an orderly. He acted with very little life and he rushed
all of his lines, like he was straight reading off of a script. All and all, the
casting was exceptional. Another thing I noticed and liked about the play was
the use of lighting to add emphasis to certain props (like the portrait of
Elwood and Harvey). The lights were also used to change the look of the scene.
Toward the ending of the play, different lights with different colors were used
to portray a dark, lonely Chumley’s Rest. Campbell’s production of Harvey
was well done. The set, props, and costumes made the audience feel like they
were in the forties. Through the nightly duration of the play, anyone watching
the play could get engulfed in the characters and fall into there lives.
Considering that the purpose of this play when it was written was to help people
escape there problems, this production would have brought a smile to its
playwright, just as it did all who attended it. I was my pleasure to play a
small part in this presentation of “Harvey” and if at all possible plan on
participating in Campbell’s theater programs in the future.
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