HarveyThe Play


Harvey-The Play Essay, Research Paper


Ted Britt


Seat # A-5

Campbell University?s Department of Theater Arts Presented ?Harvey? on April 7th and

8th and from the 13th through the 15th. 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


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