Theatre Review: Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndhams Theatre

Hollywood stars reprise roles in an emotionally-charged production of Broadway classic

What is star quality? If you have any doubts, see this production featuring Vanessa Redgrave and James Earl Jones giving an acting masterclass in one of the most enduring and enjoyable of modern American plays.

The much-celebrated double act reprise their collaboration on Alfred Uhry’s 1987 play which was so successful on Broadway earlier this year.

Demonstrating their craft in all its glory, these two iconic veterans of the theatre simply ooze class. Their every nuance, every glance, every facial expression and every word count in this most succinct of plays, which lasts just 90 emotionally-charged minutes without an interval.

The play is set in America’s Deep South against the backdrop of racial tension between 1948 and 1973, when social change and political upheaval was driven by the civil rights movement. But it is a timeless, gentle study of a slow-burning relationship between two contrasting old timers who grudgingly find they share more in common than they ever realised.

Redgrave portrays the rich and feisty white widow Miss Daisy and Jones is the salt-of-the-earth black chauffeur from the other side of the tracks, hired as a minder by her son after she crashes her limousine and becomes uninsurable.

Both are proud and opinionated and they bicker and rub along uncomfortably together until eventually they discover, in their dotage, a mutual respect and that they need each equally. Their journey is touching, often humorous, and a joy to behold.

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* Driving Miss Daisy is showing at Wyndhams Theatre in Charing Cross Road, WC2, until Saturday, December 17.