IT IS poignant that 30 years on from the first performance of Driving Miss Daisy, the social ambience that forms the background has not changed as much as we might have wished.

The prejudices - social, racial and religious - are all recognisable and still with us to a greater or lesser extent, both in America where the play is set, and closer to home.

And it is these divides which drive the story of the relationship between widowed Jewish teacher Daisy and Hoke, the illiterate black driver hired by her son to be her chauffeur, when Boolie, the son (Teddy Kempner), decides Daisy should no longer be behind the wheel.

Sian Phillips and Derek Griffiths delicately and subtlely develop their relationship over twenty years from distinctly frosty to warm and ultimately tender. They have an irresistible chemistry and exploit every moment of comedy. It is very funny, with some delicious one-liners, and very moving.

Although now reasonably wealthy, Daisy is conscious of her humble roots and Ms Phillips communicates so succinctly her discomfort at any behaviour on the part of her chauffeur which makes her look ‘above herself.’

Mr Kempner acts the patient, long-suffering son, sometimes outsmarted by both his mother and Hoke.

Mr Griffiths successfully projects a combination of humility with a feisty determination to be his own man.

It is beautifully staged with a versatile set and clever use of lighting.

Above all it is a deceptively simple and heartwarming story about an unlikely friendship.

Driving Miss Daisy will continue at the Theatre Royal Bath until Saturday, September 9.

Jo Bayne