Thursday, December 13, 2012

The scoop on Our Town: yes, it is unforgettable, and yes, it will sell out completely

Therese Plaehn, David Cromer, and Derrick Trumbly in Our Town.  Photo: T. Charles Erickson.
This is just an early warning to fans of the Hub Review regarding the Huntington's re-mounting of David Cromer's celebrated version of Thornton Wilder's Our Town:

Yes, you do want to see it, and yes, it will sell out completely (even though the run has already been extended).  Indeed, since seating is fairly limited in the Roberts Studio Theatre, expect this to be the hottest ticket in town once the reviews drop.

As for my review - well, this one's tricky, as Cromer's production depends on a specific coup de théâtre in the haunting last act that pulls together (with heartbreaking force) a concept that until then slightly mystified at least a few folks in the audience.  I don't believe the impact of this coup completely depends on its surprise - I guessed at its essence, and it still floored me - but I think epiphanies usually work best when they're unexpected, don't you?

Either way, Cromer's gambit is unforgettable, and while it violates Wilder's stage directions, it's actually utterly in consonance with his themes. Indeed, I think it will be hard to imagine Our Town in future without this masterstroke; it will become a touchstone of the play's performance history.

All I'll say is that it reminds you that Wilder's deepest theme is something like "Life is not a rehearsal."  To be honest, perhaps not everyone in the (mostly local) cast was equally at ease with the production concept on opening night - but certainly local lights Nael Nacer, Marianna Bassham, Alex Pollock, and Paul Farwell excelled.

And it's worth noting that director Cromer, in one more meta-theatrical flourish, is himself in the cast, as the Stage Manager (a role the author himself sometimes played, as at left, in Wellesley in 1950) - but only through December 30.

The bottom line is simply that this Our Town is unforgettable.  Beyond that, mum's the word.

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