Get SF Weekly Newsletters
Pin It

Our Town 

A folksy play with a dark undertow of relevant wartime protest

Wednesday, Dec 15 2004
Thornton Wilder's folksy play about Grovers Corners (actually Peterborough), N.H., has a dark undertow of protest that makes it relevant in wartime: At least one of the town boys will die in the First World War. But the play isn't about him. It's about a girl named Emily Webb who marries George Gibbs. And it's about a Stage Manager, self-consciously mounting a play about Emily and George long after they've grown up. The play is the one we're watching; Our Town is early metatheater. The experiment and the small-town criticism are so well-worn by now that they feel almost comfortable, like a threadbare La-Z-Boy. But two actors in this production make it worthwhile. Wanda McCaddon, as the Stage Manager, beautifully captures the slow, unfashionable, hopeful severity of an aging Yankee, in cords and a sweater and a collared shirt. She's cross-cast -- the Stage Manager is traditionally a man -- but that doesn't matter. Her flat realism keeps the narration from turning hokey. Lauren English is also energetic as Emily -- earnest, hesitant, chipper, cautious yet fierce-tempered, and "pretty enough for all normal purposes." When the story nearly goes off the rails in the third act, with its Spoon River Anthology-style treatment of a dying town, English saves it with a bit of potent, vivid acting. Very few of the actors here can manage a proper New Hampshire accent, and some of the scenes are stiff, but the pathos and grief Wilder wrote into the play come through beautifully well.


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Popular Stories

  1. Most Popular Stories
  2. Stories You Missed


  • clipping at Brava Theater Sept. 11
    Sub Pop recording artists 'clipping.' brought their brand of noise-driven experimental hip hop to the closing night of 2016's San Francisco Electronic Music Fest this past Sunday. The packed Brava Theater hosted an initially seated crowd that ended the night jumping and dancing against the front of the stage. The trio performed a set focused on their recently released Sci-Fi Horror concept album, 'Splendor & Misery', then delved into their dancier and more aggressive back catalogue, and recent single 'Wriggle'. Opening performances included local experimental electronic duo 'Tujurikkuja' and computer music artist 'Madalyn Merkey.'"