Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Review: Our Town, Almeida

“The morning star always get wonderful bright the minute before it has to go”

Some images sear themselves into the mind, never to be forgotten and for me, the staging of the third act of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town was such a one – something so simply done yet achingly powerful in effect, all the more so given it isn’t immediately apparent. And after Mr Burns, it is the second time in three plays that the Almeida has delivered a doozy of a third act – one can’t help but feel sorry (or laugh) at the doofuses that left at any of the intervals.

It is interesting to see the strength of the reactions to David Cromer’s version of this show – in the Evening Standard, Fiona Mountford decries it as glib, desultory and that final act as smug(!) and Jake Orr dismissed it thus
which just goes to show different strokes for different silly folks eh (I was part of that audience...)

Coming to the play for the first time and with no knowledge of it beforehand clearly shaped my response and with the benefit of being someone who was familiar with it, it was fascinating to work my way into its metatheatrics, which I had assumed had been imposed by Cromer, and discover during the first interval that they were in fact part of the original. Getting to experience a play brand new this way is an increasingly rare pleasure for me and with these fresh eyes, I have to say it worked for me.

With the lights up, placing the audience into a similar community hall role as in the preceding Little Revolution, Wilder and Cromer’s examination of small town life through the ordinary tales of the inhabitants of the New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners (and the town itself) becomes something quietly extraordinary. From ‘Daily Life’ to ‘Love and Marriage’ to ‘Death and Dying’ in two short hours, life passes by in the blink of an eye most affectingly. Go and make your own mind up.

Running time: 2 hours (with 2 intervals)
Booking until 29th November

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