“Harvey”, by Mary Chase is a funny comedy that takes place in a city in the far west in the 1940’s. This play is a classic that is done by several high schools, colleges, and professionals and they all star Harvey.
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Elwood P. Dowd is the main character in “Harvey”. He is an intelligent man is very sweet. Unfortunately, he is a bit peculiar. He believes in an invisible friend named Harvey. These two characters sets up the plot of the whole story.
I read this play when I was in school and as I grew older, I appreciated this play more and more. This play is one to see several times. It’s a timeless masterpiece that can be found to be hilarious even to this day.
Here below is the complete summary of “Harvey”:
Act 1 takes place in the library of the old Dowd family Mansion in the late afternoon. Veta and Myrtle indicate that Elwood P. Dowd is very strange man. He has an invisible friend named Harvey, a six-foot bunny rabbit. Even though Elwood is a sweet man, people are often scared when they find out about his invisible friend. The family is quite embarrassed about it.
An hour later, Veta goes to Chumley’s Rest to put Elwood in this sanitarium. She tells them about Harvey. She tells Dr. Sanderson and nurse Kelly about the situation. Instead of putting Elwood away, they put Veta in Chumley’s Rest because she’s the one who sounds crazy and release Elwood. Dr. Sanderson has to explain his reasons for his actions to Dr. Chumley, owner of the sanitarium.
Meanwhile, Elwood talks to Betty, Dr. Chumley’s wife, about Harvey. Betty thinks that Harvey is a real person and she is very interested in meeting him. Betty tells Dr. Chumley about. Harvey. Dr. Chumley realizes that Elwood is insane and they get Veta out of the sanitarium.
Act 2 takes place at the library, an hour later. Myrtle is talking to Judge Omar Gaffney. Veta returns back to the library, and tells them about her experiences at Chumley’s Rest. She tells them about how she was taken to a room and they forced her to go into a tub of water. Then some people interrogated her to see why she was crazy. Dr. Chumley and Wilson, a worker at Chumley’s Rest, come over to the house to put Elwood away in the sanitarium. Gaffney threatens Dr. Chumley for mistreating Veta. At the same time, Elwood calls from Charlie’s, a bar, to put check if Harvey is there. Veta lies to Elwood and tells him that Harvey is at the mansion taking a bath. While he is talking to Veta, Elwood sees Harvey and says, “There must be a stranger in the tub”. Elwood says goodbye and Dr. Chumley and Wilson head over to Charlie’s.
Four hours later at Chumley’s rest, Dr Sanderson is leaving since he has been discharged because he made a mistake about Veta being insane. Elwood shows up at Chumley's Rest to take Dr. Sanderson and Kelly for a drink. Wilson shows up and starts asking when Elwood last saw Dr. Chumley. Elwood says that Dr. Chumley and Harvey joined him for a drink at the bar. He says that later Harvey and Chumley left the bar together. Wilson says that Elwood is lying, but Kelly and Dr. Sanderson say he could be telling the truth. Elwood explains how he met Harvey for the first time and his personality. Then Dr. Chumley comes in and tells them to lock the doors.
Act 3 takes place at Chumley’s rest, a few minutes later. Chumley orders Wilson to bring Elwood downstairs. Dr. Sanderson believes that Elwood is suffering from a hallucinatation and says that Elwood should take the shock treatment if he does not want to see Harvey anymore. Dr. Chumley prepares for his diagnosis by seeing Elwood alone. Dr. Chumley says that Dr. Sanderson and Veta are not your friends to Elwood, but Elwood thinks nothing of Dr. Chumley’s statement. Chumley, who also sees Harvey, discusses with Elwood the magical powers of the six-foot rabbit.
Dr. Chumley then agrees to give Elwood the shock treatment. Then the cab driver comes in and wants Veta to pay the cab fare. She gets Elwood to pay since she cannot find her purse. The cab driver says that Elwood is a sweet guy. He says after they give him the shock treatment, he will become normal and grouch like all the other people who came there for treatment. Veta does not like the sound of this and she stops them from giving the shock treatment to Elwood. In the end, Elwood goes home with Veta and Harvey. Veta then finds her purse in her pocket and figures that Harvey must have taken it.