'Yesterday' holds up 

‘Born Yesterday’
Arkansas Repertory Theatre
March 16

When reviewing a play, most often you are offered tickets for opening night. And usually that’s when we go. Occasionally, though, it’s interesting to go a bit later in the weekend. To see how it holds up. I saw the Rep’s “Born Yesterday” at its sixth performance in four days. Everything held up fine. Everyone was as energetic as if it was opening night. I was impressed.

“Born Yesterday” is a 1940s romantic comedy with more than a touch of Pygmalion in it. Harry Brock (Scott Coopwood) buys and sells junk yards and he’s in Washington with his long time lover, Billie Dawn (Joan Hess), to buy himself a senator.

Concerned that the former show girl, Billie Dawn, may not fit in with the Washington regulars, Brock hires Paul Verrall (Stafford Clark-Price), a young reporter, to indoctrinate her with culture. And Verrall does all too good a job.

Billie Dawn, in the course of two months, learns so much that she’s turned from aging show girl to elegant student and idealist. She realizes that Brock has been using her as cover in some shady business dealings and, without giving away the end, we’ll just say that Billie Dawn and Paul seem to make their own way.

While the set and costumes may be all gorgeously set in the time, the script is as relevant as ever. Unfortunately, it like so many other texts, it offers more commentary than answers: “Are the people gonna run the country or is the country gonna run the people?”

The small cast is fantastic. They have deep roots in the Shakespearean world, according to the bios. Coopwood is outstanding as Harry Brock, all bluster and temper and ego. But more amazing is Joan Hess’ Billie Dawn. She has to be to be able to stand down Brock, to keep him from completely dominating the stage, and she does. I think she’s the only one in the cast who could do it. She is elegant, smart and hilarious.

As much as this is a political romantic comedy, don’t forget that Garson Kanin placed it in the world of 1946 — there is a lot of physical and slapstick humor. Some of the biggest laughs come during an almost silent card game in the first act.

For the laughs and gorgeous costumes alone this play would be worth seeing, but perhaps there are some answers in it for you. Go and see.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Joy Ritchey

  • Near perfect 'King'; 'Daughter' hard to raise

    Lush and lavish, the Rep’s “The King and I” is a fantastic holiday play. "American Daughter," however, has aged a bit and the Weekend Theater crew may not have been completely prepared to take it on just yet.
    • Dec 7, 2006
  • George Wittenberg: downtown visionary

    When George Wittenberg sent me his address I didn’t look at it closely. It wasn’t until the morning of our interview that I read it and thought, “Huh? This isn’t near the River Market.” I was so certain that was where he lived. I plugged the address into
    • Nov 16, 2006
  • Out of the park

    I enjoyed the Weekend Theater’s production of “Take Me Out” even more than the one I saw on Broadway.
    • Nov 10, 2006
  • More »

Most Shared

  • Trump unfit

    Even as an oligarch, President Trump turns out to be breathtakingly incompetent. Is there any reason to suppose he's even loyal to the United States? Does he even understand the concept? Trump is loyal to Trump, and to his absurdly swollen ego. Nothing and nobody else.
  • You want tort reform? Try this.

    The nursing home industry and the chamber of commerce finally defeated the trial lawyers in the 2017 legislature. The Republican-dominated body approved a constitutional amendment for voters in 2018 that they'll depict as close to motherhood in goodness.
  • Goodbye, Mr. Trump

    It is hard to escape the feeling that the fortunes of President Trump and the country took a decisive, and for Trump a fatal, turn May 9-10, when the president fired the director of the FBI over its investigation of Russian efforts to swing the presidential election to him and the very next day shared top-secret intelligence with Russian officials in an Oval Office meeting closed except to a Kremlin press aide toting electronic gear to capture the intimate session for Russians but not Americans.
  • Raw feelings in the Arkansas Justice Building over workload, pay

    Strained relations between the Arkansas Supreme Court and the Arkansas Court of Appeals broke into public view this week. I expect more to come.

Latest in Theater Reviews

Visit Arkansas

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

New Entrance and North Forest to debut with Chihuly exhibit opening at Crystal Bridges

Dual Chihuly exhibit opening also brings culmination of year-plus forest project

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Tollywood tumble

    • Thank you for sharing.
      Telugu Film Actress Gallery

    • on May 22, 2017
  • Re: A Q&A with Bob Dorough

    • like Rodney replied I'm taken by surprise that you able to profit $9659 in four…

    • on May 20, 2017

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation