The play starts just outside a party hosted by Veta Louse Simmons and her daughter Myrtle Mae. We soon realize their impatience and somewhat disdain for the behavior of their bother and uncle Elwood P Dowd; you see, Elwood has somewhat of an odd friend, a six-foot tall white rabbit, named Harvey.
Veta feeling Myrtle Mae's social life has been stunted enough by Harvey goes to Chumley's Rest, a mental institution to commit Elwood permanently. The nurse explains to her that Veta will have to talk to Dr. Sanderson about her brother. When Veta insists on seeing Dr. William Chumley the head doctor, the Nurse assures Mrs. Simmons, very vigorously that "Dr. Sanderson is wonderful "ÃÂ¦ to the patients."ÃÂ Suggesting that she thinks of him more than a professional. The nurse leaves the room. Dr. Sanderson comes in and starts discussing the placement of Elwood in the sanatorium, after a short emotional interview with Veta, in which she divulges that she sees Harvey sometimes, he decides she not Elwood is the one that needs to be in Chumley's Rest.
So they go through the motions of getting her in and him out, and a few minutes later Dr. Sanderson and the Nurse are apologizing profusely Elwood in the reception area. Elwood again showing his great people skills understands and maybe mistakes the gist of the conversation, and invites the two to drink with him, (apparent by now this is his favorite pastime). Dr. Sanderson explains to Dr. Chumley that they locked the wrong person up. Mrs. Chumley enters and reminds her husband of a cocktail party. The doctors and nurse exit to take care of Mrs. Simmons. Elwood enters; a conversation then ensues between Elwood and Mrs. Chumley in which Elwood tells her about Harvey. As Elwood leaves she promises to tell Harvey to meet him. Moments later the doctors come back discuss the situation with Mrs. Chumley and figures out they messed up for real this time.
The next scene opens with Judge Gaffney and Myrtle discussing Elwood's potential and house. They obviously weren't paying attention to each other. Veta stumbles in, they discuss shortly what has happens, and then she goes up to her room. Myrtle goes to get a picture of Elwood's, while she is gone Dr. Chumley and Wilson the orderly come in looking for Elwood. Myrtle comes back with the picture. They all leave. Elwood comes in and hangs sets up the previously concealed painting (of him and Harvey). Elwood exits. Veta and Dr. Chumley come down, the Dr. notices the picture Veta does not, they discuss it, when Veta sees it and flips. They realize he has been there, he calls, the Dr. goes to Charlie's looking for Elwood.
Elwood, apparently unaware that everyone is looking for him, shows up at the sanatorium to fulfill his date with Dr. Sanderson and the nurse, they grill him about the whereabouts of Chumley (He left four hours ago). He comes very apprehensive and demand Wilson to lock the door.
Everyone is here! They want to give Elwood formula 977 to make Harvey go away. Dr. Chumley actually wants to have Harvey and his wonderful powers to himself. Elwood doesn't want to leave Harvey, but is willing to do anything for his sister Veta. The cabbie comes in and warns Veta of the changed person that Elwood will be. She stops the Dr. and everybody lives happily ever after.
Matt Whisenhunt Review of Harvey Play Review October 24, 2000 Let me begin by stating the play was enjoyable, I saw twice in fact. The plot was fascinating and kept me guessing. The performances were wonderful, however at times they seemed a little to exaggerated and boisterous. The set design was very interesting; the bowling pin still baffles me. There appeared to be certain innuendoes that rubbed me the wrong way.
I enjoyed the cabbie's performance the most. It was a very small part, yet it drove home what I thought some of themes of the play were, "don't take life too seriously"ÃÂ or "stop and watch the birds in the sky"ÃÂ maybe it is pushing it but "you can never watch enough sunsets."ÃÂ The cabbie's costume was also my favorite, I can't seek from experience, not knowing much of the fashion habits of a 1940's cabbie but there can no way that somebody dresses like that regularly.
Another one of my favorite moments of the play was when Elwood explained to Dr. Chumley something to the effect of, "When I was young my mother taught me, that to get along with people you can either be nice or you can be intelligent, for many years I was intelligent, trust me being nice is much better."ÃÂ Elwood and Dr. Chumley had other insightful conversations, another one of my favorites was while Elwood was explaining one of Harvey's powers he stated "I have never wanted to be somewhere besides where I am at that time."ÃÂ My favorite thing Elwood told the good doctor was about his affixation with bars "Nobody brings anything small into bar, people share with me their problems, their hopes, their dreams, but I give them Harvey and he is bigger than any of those things"ÃÂ.
"Men liked him, women liked him, I liked him"ÃÂ, these words from Judge Gaffney are just one subtlety that made the play intriguing. However some other not so subtle sexual material, I felt, detracted from the play; one example is Wilson stripping Veta Simmons, and the several references to it, in the remainder of the play. Wilson displaying the bra was especially graphic. The significance of the strip when retelling the story to the Judge and Myrtle could have been substituted with a strait jacket, and a filthy cell, or being man handled, or simply being mistaken as insane. Again later in the play when Veta wanted to make it clear that Myrtle was not to think twice about Wilson, simply knowing that Wilson had man-handled her would had been sufficient enough reason for the audience to know why Veta distained Wilson.
Finally the best way to describe the nurse's and Dr. Sanderson's relationship is quirky. I could never decide how they felt for each other. This side plot was never tied up in the end; it could have certainly had some different twists in it. For example I personally wanted the nurse to hook up with Elwood in the end.
I give this play a 9.2 on the OmattMeter. I suggest you watch it when you get the chance, especially if you get the rare treat of seeing it directed by the genius of Varlo Davenport.