Daisy is a 72-year-old Jewish woman forbidden to drive after a car accident wrecks her two-week-old Chrysler.
She claimed the car “misbehaved.”
Miss Daisy still possesses all her faculties. She has, however, reached a point where cars tend to misbehave when she is behind the wheel.
The Adobe Theater is staging Alfred Uhry’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1987 play “Driving Miss Daisy” beginning on Friday, April 29. The play runs on weekends through May 22.
Daisy’s son Boolie buys her a 1949 Hudson Commodore and hires 60-year-old Hoke, a Black chauffeur, against his mother’s furious objections.
The unlikely pair journey through a 25-year arc marked by frustration, acceptance and, finally, friendship.
“I’ve always wanted to direct this play,” director Cheryl Atkins said. “Not only is it a tour-de-force for an actor; they age 25 years.
“But we span the history of the country when the war was over,” she continued. “And the effects of the Holocaust had just been made public. We have a Jewish family living in the South (Atlanta), which was not heavily populated by Jews. It’s the ’60s and 100 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and there hasn’t been much progress.”
Hoke is a patient widower of infinite tact and vast reserves of subversive wit.
Although Daisy is wealthy, she loathes the idea of servants. But Hoke knows far more about the real world than his employer. To his amusement, she clings to memories of her humble beginnings and her years as a schoolteacher. She teaches him how to read. He teaches her about the world he inhabits.
Both of them are outsiders. Theirs is a friendship of equals.
The play still resonates today, Atkins insisted.
“We still have burnings of synagogues. We still have horrible murders of Black men. This play is so current. We talk about Martin Luther King. We talk about racial injustice. There are so many stories of unrest.”
The play ends in the 1990s, with Daisy in a nursing home.
“She goes from ‘I don’t need you’ to ‘I can’t live without you.’ ”
The play stars Carolyn R. Ward (“Separate Tables” and “Under Milk Wood”), Steven L. Higgins and Richard Atkins.
Playwright Uhry based “Driving Miss Daisy” on his cantankerous grandmother and her prickly relationship with her Black chauffeur. The 1989 film starred Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd.