Review: Driving Miss Daisy

“I told you to use Google Maps!”

“I told you to use Google Maps!”

Photo courtesy of Sacramento Theatre Company

Driving Miss Daisy; 8 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday; $34-$38. Pollock Stage at Sacramento Theatre Company, 1419 H Street; (916) 443-6722; Through February 14.
Rated 5.0

Alfred Uhry’s play Driving Miss Daisy is many things: a benign odd-couple drama, a delicate exploration of the South’s changing civil-rights scene, a warmhearted study of an unlikely friendship. In the production of the play now on stage at the Sacramento Theatre Company, it is all these things and a touching commentary on aging—the fears and frailties that come with time.

The play begins in 1948 in Atlanta, when—after yet another driving accident—72-year-old Daisy Werthan (Janis Stevens) is getting the unwelcome news from her son Boolie (Scott Divine) that he’s taking the keys to her car. From now on, she’s to have a driver—and Boolie will choose the man. When Boolie hires Hoke, an African-American man (Michael J. Asberry), the relationship runs rough. Over the course of the next 25 years, however, a strong friendship develops between the crotchety white woman and her driver.

Stevens, an intelligent and vibrant actress, gives herself bravely to the role, aging and weakening before our eyes (and makeup has the least to do with it). Asberry also ages, but mostly his character grows stronger—strong enough to admit the mutual need between himself and the woman he drove and who taught him to read and write. Divine, as the dutiful son, allows the focus to stay on Daisy and Hoke. It is a superior cast and is given the best kind of support in Benjamin T. Ismail’s precise direction.