Theater students bring imaginary cast to life

Imaginary friends, giant rabbits and psychiatrists will soon grace the stage at Murray State’s Johnson Theatre as the theater department presents the famed comedy “Harvey,” originally written by Mary Chase.

Directed by Daryl Phillipy, assistant professor of humanities and fine arts, the students will perform “Harvey” for audiences of all ages. Built upon the search for contentment in life, the story follows Mr. Ellwood P. Dowd and his imaginary friend Harvey.

“(Ellwood) has an imaginary friend named Harvey who is a rabbit,” Phillipy said. “He is a white rabbit that is six feet tall, and they go everywhere together. They are best friends.”

Ellwood’s family, unfortunately, is not thrilled about the presence of Harvey in their lives.

“(Harvey) really causes problems for Ellwood’s family, because the family is shunned by society because everyone thinks Ellwood is crazy,” Phillipy said. “His sister Vita gets fed up with it all when Ellwood introduces Harvey to everyone at her big society party, and it is just this big embarrassment for her. She’s had it. So (Vita) goes to the sanitarium to try and have Ellwood committed, but while she is discussing with the doctor the problems she is having with Harvey, (the doctor) diagnoses her as the person who is actually crazy.”

From here the play continues to follow the increasingly hilarious pursuit of Ellwood and Harvey as the doctors try to fix their mistakes and commit the right patient.

The play takes on a more serious tone however, as it forces the audience to take a step back, and reconsider which character is actually insane.

Is Ellwood crazy to believe in the imaginary if that makes him content, or are the seemingly sane characters in the play those in need of a check up, as they have all lost their perspective on life?

“The play carries this whole idea of, you know, he’s found something that makes him happy, while everyone else is stressed out, and they’re hung up on all of these material things, and they’re really missing out on what life has to offer,” Phillipy said.

Despite the laughs within the play, “Harvey” promises to make the audience take a deeper look at their lives and reconsider what is truly important as Ellwood is portrayed as increasingly wise, rather than as a crazy man.

The performances will be held in Johnson Theatre in the Fine Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and the final performance of the show will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

All performances are free to students with­ a valid student ID. Members of the community are also invited to attend.

Story by Shannon MacAllister, Staff writer.