Some of the Reviews for Driving Miss Daisy
From USA Today:
Under David Esbjornson’s graceful direction, Redgrave’s Daisy and Jones’ Hoke approach each other tentatively at first, though the potential for both discord and affection is immediately obvious. As they “drive” through John Lee Beatty’s spare, elegant set — Daisy’s cars are represented by a wooden bench and chairs and a wheel attached to a base — the tension between them is not unlike that you’d expect from a couple in a romantic comedy.
For what this staging makes plain is that Daisy is a love story, however platonic. The twinkle that’s in Jones’ eye during Hoke’s witty exchanges with Boolie (played by a predictably pitch-perfect Boyd Gaines) alternately sharpens and softens when he’s with Redgrave. Similarly, Redgrave can make Daisy almost girlish in her coyness. She then becomes childlike — as the elderly, ironically, so often are — in her later, more fragile moments.
Neither Jones nor Redgrave loses the regal bearing we have long attributed to them; rather, they channel it to suggest the dignity of seemingly ordinary characters. In doing so, they remind us that great acting can transcend not only life but art as well.
From the Wall Street Journal:
During the first part of the play, I wondered whether Ms. Redgrave, who plays Daisy in a fairly low key, was going to get upstaged in a big way by Mr. Jones. Before long, though, I figured out that what I was seeing was in fact a smart decision by a seasoned pro. The only way to “compete” against a performance as dynamic as the one being given by Mr. Jones is to come at it from a different angle, and by underplaying the idiosyncrasies of the combative, querulous Daisy, Ms. Redgrave slips out from under his long shadow and ends up making an equally deep and persuasive impression.
Mr. Gaines writes in his program bio that he is “honored to be working with these two extraordinary artists.” I admire his modesty, but there’s no need for it. As he reminded us yet again earlier this year in A.R. Gurney’s “The Grand Manner,” Mr. Gaines is one of the best stage actors we have, and it’s something to see how he takes the lesser role of Boolie and fills it with character and individuality. No, he’s not the star, but I guarantee that you’ll talk about him on the way home.
With three great actors -- Vanessa Redgrave, James Earl Jones and Boyd Gaines -- at their apogee, the enchanting revival of “Driving Miss Daisy” is the best theater can be.
Most so-called feel-good plays are sentimental claptrap that television can manage better. “Driving Miss Daisy,” however, is art. Alfred Uhry’s play makes us feel good because it is absolutely honest, truthfully aware of the rough and the smooth of life, beautifully (not just prettily) written about real people learning as they live, caught on the wing by an author who has something very human to say.
The acting is simply superb. That is if the vast talents of the cast can be called simple. They are tried and true performers who bring ultimate artistry well beyond mere craft.
From Redgrave, it is a kind of sublime mugging and gloriously projected, perfectly Southern speech, going from chilly hauteur through sassy incandescence to bone-deep humanity.
From Jones, it is the most cannily deployed sense of volume and temperature control, of magisterially timed pauses, of irresistible laughter and unshakable dignity.
Gaines shows inexhaustible charm as the son, his very rants immensely graceful.