Friday, June 15, 2012

Finding Harvey

Did Marilyn Stasio and Charles Isherwood see the same play, the play that in 1945 won the Pulitzer over Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie?  Neither reviewer praises Harvey as a great work; however, Isherwood likes the production and Stasio, not so much.  Perhaps their differing views are a consequence of differences in their critical interpretation of Elwood's/Parson’s delusions.   Isherwood sees in Elwood's/Parsons’ literal-mindedness "a commentary on the little hypocrisies that lubricate social intercourse but also impede true connection”.  For Isherwood, "the soft-spoken Mr. Parsons makes an ideal Elwood, the drinker and dreamer who passes his days in the company of Harvey/Hope ... Mr. Parsons possesses in abundance the crucial ability to project an ageless innocence without any visible effort."

Stasio is not impressed.  She writes that "the vacancy behind his [Parson’s] bland facial expressions has a chilling effect.  According to Stasio, "in the final scene, … scribe Chase quits being facetious and makes her serious point that 'perfectly normal human beings' are, in fact, nasty people -- and that however eccentric Elwood may seem to the 'normal' people in the world, he's a lot happier than they are."  I had to look up facetious:  To make an attempt at being funny, while being sarcastic at the same time [Urban Dictionary].  Might that explain Elwood's drinking?

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