Theater & Performing Arts


When: Fridays, Saturdays, 8 p.m. and Sept. 20-Oct. 11, 2 p.m. Continues through Oct. 11 2009

There's only so much you can do with a play about a middle-aged man with an imaginary bunny best friend, but Contra Costa Civic Theatre milks Mary Chase's Harveyfor all it's worth. Ostensibly a light, old-fashioned comedy, the play touches on gender politics, greed, mental illness, and the failures of psychoanalysis. Tom Reardon is terrific as Elwood P. Dowd, a well-heeled, happy-go-lucky alcoholic who persistently introduces people to his six-foot bunny friend Harvey. He's in good company, with Greg Milholland and Ken Ray as two wayward psychologists, and the equally convincing Maureen-Theresa Williams as Veta Louise Simmons, the sister who tries to put Dowd in a sanatorium in order to seize his estate. From there it's fairly easy to see where the story is going. Pretty much everyone in the play is out to get Dowd, who seems largely unaware but keeps thwarting their evil plans. The funniest moment comes toward the end, when Dowd recounts a night of drunken revelry with Harvey and head psychiatrist William R. Chumley, who by that time is having bunny visions of his own. Vintage sitcom music and intentionally hokey set design (complete with framed Rorschach ink blots) help buoy this production. Through October 11 at Contra Costa Civic Theatre (951 Pomona Ave., El Cerrito). $11-$18.

Rachel Swan

Price: $11-$18

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