I saw the Barrow Street Theatre production of Thorton Wilder’s Our Town this weekend. I don’t even know what I could say that would do the show justice. If you’re in NYC, just get tickets, you will not be sorry.
We arrived and were ushered to our seats…on the floor, in the middle of the action. Everything about the show immerses you in the lives of the citizens of Grover’s Corners. If you haven’t seen or read Our Town before (as I had only read it), the show chronicles just a few days from a few different years in the lives of a couple families living in plain New Hampshire town. The script is simple and direct. Driven by a character named the “Stage Manager,” we follow normal people in their normal pursuits of living. From birth to marriage, and finally to death. The brilliance of the script, and the entire show, hinges on the Brechtian simplicity of production and the universally understandable emotional core of tenderness and aching.
The deft staging of this production by director David Cromer (who’s brilliantly directed production of When the Rain Stops Falling is currently playing at Lincoln Center’s Mitsy Newhouse Theater - my review of that show here) engages the audience at every point. From the clever use of a few tables and chairs to create a whole town, to subtleties like leaving the house lights on during the performance, or the presence of a few bright green string beans being prepared during the show - all senses were engaged. And these are just the examples that I can give away without spoiling some of the surprises that Mr. Cromer saves in his sleeves for the end.
The emotional center of the play is brought to life by the brilliant actors in plainclothes that portray the townspeople of Grover’s Corners. Their simple pursuits are played with dignity and a genuine respect for the material and the audience.
Go see this show! It’s perfect for people like me with a short attention span, at just over 2 hrs with 2 ten minute intermissions, the play really clips by at a wonderful pace.
Special Note: At our performance we saw Michael Moore, Andrea Martin, and Nellie McKay all in attendance.
I give this production of Our Town 5 out of 5 stars - terrific.
What a review! I will definitely move this to the top of my “must see” list.