Today I saw Darth Vader and Jessica Fletcher – on stage together.
Well, not really, but I did see the matinee of Driving Miss Daisy starring two of the world’s most famous octogenarians. James Earl Jones, 82, and Angela Lansbury, 88, together for 90 splendid minutes.
They were joined by a 3-time Tony winning actor, Boyd Gaines, who held his own against this formidable pair – and a few times, stole the scene from them. Miss Lansbury was – at times – magical, even though she missed a few lines here and there. I was stunned to read afterwards that she is nearly 90! She’s so elegant and it was a lovely performance. I choked bad a quiet sob when she said, “Hoke, you’re my best friend,” and there were tears in my eyes in the final scene when he feeds her her pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving and she gives him the most loving smile.
And, Mr Jones – how incredible his performance was. Such a study in dichotomies – the man who is both humble and proud – the humour and the pathos of this wonderfully portrayed character.
At times the play itself leapt about – almost clunkily – it spans 25 years in 90 minutes, a one-acter, which means there are large chunks of their lives that are missed. I liked the simple staging, which mostly worked to tell the story, but at times the actors seemed rushed into the next scene with nary a moment to transition emotionally. Still, I laughed throughout – Jones’ and Gaines’ comic timing both incredibly sharp, and of course there were the few highly poignant moments.
It was someone else’s bad fortune that this ticket fell into my lap – and I am grateful to the friend who thought to pass it on to me. I hope your mum is better soon, Simonne. And please thank her again for me. I am completely amazed that I got to see two legendary actors on the stage.