Saturday, July 18, 2009


Don't read this post. Get right off this page and go to the website for the Barrow Street Theatre and reserve tickets for Our Town this instant. GO! I'll wait.

There. Wasn't that easy? And you are about to see one of the most fantastic productions of anything I've ever seen anywhere.

Now, everybody knows Our Town - mainly because it was everybody's senior class play unless you did You Can't Take It With You instead (I did, although it wasn't my senior class play*). You know, the Webb family and the Gibbs family and love and marriage and death and the Stage Manager and all that. Yeah, that one.

I don't think I've seen the play for a good thirty years or so, because, quite frankly, I know it so well and it's so often a deadly damn bore. It tends to get staged the same way every time, for one thing...bare or almost bare stage, lots of miming of things, etc., etc., etc. Which is fine, because that happens to be the way Thornton Wilder intended it to be done. Unfortunately, because of this, people seem to think it'll be very simple to do - which it isn't. The problem is that bad actors (WAY too many of them, starting with the high school senior play kids) are lots more comfortable with costumes and props to play with, and haven't the remotest notion of how to act without them - actually, they're not too hot WITH them either, but the whole thing looks better. Our Town requires spectacular acting, because that's all there is to it.

Boy, does the play ever get its spectacular acting in this production. It's got the usual accoutrements - bare stage, nothing but tables and chairs, modern dress. What this cast does with it is nothing short of miraculous...and there's a surprise in the third act which you'll just have to go and see because I wouldn't ruin it for the world...but when it came up, the whole audience let out a collective gasp of delight.

All in all, it was a production which made me, Caesar, Joe and D.L. - actors all - look at each other and say, "Now will we go home and practice?" The only other thing I've seen in my life that made me say that was a production of a Pinter play which starred Sir John Gielgud and Sir Ralph you can imagine how good Our Town was.


Love, Wendy (who seems to be burbling)

*My senior class play was The Green Pastures, which was written by Marc Connolly in the 1920's to be played by an all-black cast, and we did it in blackface - in 1963. I think we were trying to show solidarity with the civil rights fight, but it was entirely bizarre. You picture it...all these little prep school kids in blackface and white choir robes...and I played De Lawd (of COURSE it was the lead)...did I mention that the whole play was written in 1920's "Negro" dialect? VERY weird...

1 comment:

bambizzoozled said...

Y'all play'ded De Lawd? Ooo child.

Awesome. My blog is all about blackface.