King's Theatre, Edinburgh
When Alfred Uhry's quietly political play first appeared in 1987, the idea of America voting in a black President at all, let alone for a second term, was a long way off. A quarter of a century on, Uhry's intimate story of the increasingly co-dependent relationship between an elderly Georgian matriarch and her chauffeur during the civil rights years is a necessary reminder of how far things have come. More importantly, perhaps, than the back projections of Martin Luther King and other protesters from the era in director David Esbjornson's touring production, Uhry has sketched a warm and human story about friendship, ageing and mortality.
It opens in 1948, with banker Boolie Werthan attempting to hire a chauffeur for his mother, the cantankerous seventy-two year old of the play's title, who has just crashed her own car for the final time. At first resistant to her new employee, Miss Daisy's initial suspicions and in-grained prejudices eventually give way to the wily charms of Hoke Coleburn. The world is changing, and Daisy even teaches Hoke to read.
At just ninety minutes long without an interval, Uhry has constructed what at first appears to be a sliver of a play. Yet there is so much heart and understated warmth knitted throughout that it's depths eventually shine through. Much of this is down to the playing, and here audiences are blessed with an exquisite pairing of Gwen Taylor as Miss Daisy and Don Warrington as Hoke, with Ian Porter lending support as Boolie. The final image of Hoke spoon-feeding Miss Daisy in a care home in 1972 suggests the pair are growing old gracefully, equals at last.
The Herald, March 7th 2013