GECA puts on a show!

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2007

By By Adrienne McKenzie
Never have I ever heard of a 'pooka' until I went to the Greater Escambia Council for the Arts performance of 'Harvey' Sunday afternoon at the First Presbyterian Church in Atmore.
The official definition of a 'pooka' is 'a mischievous spirit in Irish folklore.' In the play 'Harvey,' Elwood P. Dowd has become best friends with a pooka named Harvey. Harvey is a more than six feet tall rabbit that Dowd, played by Phil Johnson, introduces to everyone he runs in to. However, those who 'meet' Harvey think Dowd is insane because they cannot see the huge white rabbit.
Dowd's sister, Veta Louise Simmons, played by Sharon Poulsen, decides it is time to have her brother placed in a sanitarium so he can no longer embarrass her and her family with his stories of Harvey.
However, when Simmons is at the sanitarium she begins explaining to Dr. Lyman Sanderson, played by Johnathan Owens, Dowd's condition and Sanderson decides it is Simmons who is insane and places her in the sanitarium and lets Dowd free.
Finally the truth comes out that Simmons is not crazy and that it is truly Dowd who sees Harvey. Simmons is set free and Dr. William R. Chumley, the sanitarium director played by Norm Boyd, seeks out to find Dowd to bring him back to Chumley's Rest.
When Chumley finds Dowd, he ends up seeing Harvey also and it turns out Harvey is not so bad. During the play, Chumley's Rest orderly Duane Wilson played by Troy Pierce looks up the definition of a 'pooka.' The definition Wilson reads is "Pooka. From old Celtic mythology. A fairy spirit in animal form. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one at his own caprice. A wise but mischievous creature. Very fond of rum-pots, crack pots; and how are you Mr. Wilson?" With Wilson reading the definition, and his name being brought up as he read it, it somewhat offers the thought that Harvey may actually be real.
I enjoyed the ending of the play the best. Chumley tells Simmons and Dowd that he has created an injection that would make Harvey invisible to Dowd. To begin with, Simmons wants her brother to take the shot in order to save herself and her family from the embarrassment of having Harvey around.
But, through a series of events, Simmons changed her mind and accepts Dowd and Harvey for the way they are and I think that is what we should all do, be accepting of people, even if they are not like us.
As far as the acting goes, the GECA performers did an excellent job. It was the first GECA play I had ever seen and I was impressed. The entire time it was difficult to get a good photo because I was laughing so hard. The actors had a way of pulling you into the story line and making you feel like Harvey really does exist to Dowd. It was a hilarious play and I definitely look forward to the next GECA performance.
For area residents who did not make it to the Atmore performances of "Harvey," GECA will also perform this play Nov. 15 at the Ritz in Brewton and on Nov. 17 at the Brewton Country Club. It's worth the drive to Brewton to see it!
Adrienne McKenzie is a staff reporter for The Atmore Advance. She can be reached at 368-2123 or via email at

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox