QAC’s Harvey fuelled by Pooka Power

Photo: Ladd Johnson

Elwood P. Dowd (Larry Hodgson) is “crazy” about Nurse Kelly (Laura Palladino) in the upcoming Quebec Art Company production of Harvey.

By Ladd Johnson What would you do if you met a six-foot rabbit on the street that no one else could see? Or if someone claimed to see such a creature and even introduced you to him? These are the questions faced by the various characters in the upcoming play Harvey which is being performed by the Quebec Art Company next week in Quebec City. This charming comedy is set in a small American city where Elwood P. Dowd, an eccentric bachelor, shares his home with his society-obsessed sister Veta Simmons and her daughter Myrtle Mae. The family's embarrassment of Elwood's belief in his remarkable (and invisible) friend Harvey, a mythical Celtic creature known as a pooka, leads to the drastic decision to commit him to a mental hospital. Of course, things do not transpire as planned and the ensuing confusion leads to both comic moments and touching revelations of what is important in life. As the main character says "Doctor, I wrestled with reality for forty years, and I am happy to state that I finally won out over it". This play, written by Mary Chase and first produced in 1944, has become an American theatre classic. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, it was quickly adapted to the silver screen where it garnered Academy Award nominations for both leads, Jimmy Stewart as Elwood and Josephine Hull as Veta. It is considered one of the top ten fantasy films of all time. In the upcoming local production, veteran QAC actors Larry Hodgson and Jane Dickinson are taking on these challenging roles under the direction of Cheryl Rimmer. Along with a cast of ten others, they have been rehearsing since September, with the intensity of effort increasing as the opening night draws near. Action takes place both at the well-appointed Dowd residence and at "Chumley's Rest", the local sanatorium where the staff, lead by renowned psychologist Dr. Chumley (Alec Roberts) and his protégé Dr. Sanderson (Mathieu Hodgson), apply their state-of-the-art methods of hydrotubs and injections to cure the craziness that they encounter. However, along the way it becomes less and less clear who is actually crazy or if anyone really wants to be "a perfectly normal human being".Although the play addresses some more serious social issues such as attitudes toward mental illness, it is overall a gentle comedy with abundant doses of humorous wisdom and is suitable for all ages. It will be performed from November 27-30 (see Events/Community Calendar for times and ticket information) at the Holland Elementary School.