The unlikely, long-lasting friendship that blossoms between a prickly, elderly southern matriarch, Daisy Werthan (Gwen Taylor) and her kind-hearted black chauffeur, Hoke Colburn (Don Warrington) is the heart of the play.
Driving Miss Daisy – known to millions through the film starring Morgan Freeman and Jessica Tandy – began life in the theatre. And it is to the theatre that it returns on a tour taking in the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford, from Wednesday, October 10 –Saturday, October 13 and the Theatre Royal Brighton, from Monday, November 12-Saturday, November 17.
As Gwen says, the film leaves you with a warm glow – but don’t go thinking this is safe, undemanding theatre. Miss Daisy is 72 when the piece opens in 1948, nearly 90 at the end: “The play tackles earth-shattering, huge problems in a domestic sweet way. As the decades roll by against a backdrop of prejudice, inequality and civil unrest, the pair slowly rise above their differences and start to rely on each other far more than either ever expected.
“It takes Miss Daisy a long time to realise that Hoke is her best friend. She is beginning to have Alzheimers, but she sustains her guard for a long, long time. She keeps her distance as long as she possibly can,” says Gwen who has recently had a dramatic exit from her role in Coronation Street where she played Anne; the mother of Frank Foster
“I think it is suggested that Martin Luther King coming on the scene impresses her. Also, she starts to realise that Hoke is more likely to be helpful to her than her son and her son’s terribly wife that we only hear about it. Her son is a good fellow, but he knows which side his bread it buttered business-wise, and his mother starts to become an embarrassment to him.”
“I have a lovely memory of the film, and I saw the play in the West End – though I didn’t know I was going to be doing it,” Gwen says. “But I was quite familiar with it from an audience point of view.
Tickets for Brighton on 0870 154 4040; tickets for Guildford on 01483 440000.