September 26, 2007

Our Town


From the opening strands of music to the lilting melody that plays as the actors take their final bows 'Our Town' is a beautiful piece of theatrical work. The show is on stage now at the Indiana Repertory Theatre.

Playwright Thornton Wilder wrote this Pulitzer Prize winning piece of work in the '30s, but its message still rings true decades later. The story is timeless and touches on points that every person on earth can relate to.
Set in the small town of Grover's Corners, N.H. the play unfolds in three acts. First there is the daily life of a small town, then there is love and marriage and lastly there is what waits for us all in the final act, death.

The production is staged as a play within a play. The stage is simple with few set pieces and even fewer props. Audience members are left to use their imaginations and rely on the outstanding acting the cast provides.

Rarely does an evening at the theatre so completely satisfy. The show is about the simple joys of life, the beauty of the moon, the pleasure of falling in love for the first time, and all of the other unavoidable pieces of our existence that spill together to create our world.

Wilder's quiet play doesn't have any huge plot twists or monumental stories to tell. Instead it is a gentle story about small town life. It is a gem, magnificent in its simplicity, that shows humanity at its best. Its message is to embrace life, savor every minute of it, love you family and friends and revel in their hopes and dreams.

The dialogue is eloquent, but not flowery. It sounds the way people converse when they've known each other for years; intimate and casual, without stilted airs. These characters feel like friends, neighbors you'd gladly pass an hour with. Towards the end of the show Emily Webb, played by Gwendolyn Whiteside an actress whose fresh performance is matched in excellence by all of her fellow performers, has a heart-wrenching scene. She gives one of the finest monologues ever spoken on stage. Those lines, which were written so long ago, evoke deep reflections into the scenes of one's own life.

Each day, each cup of coffee and each conversation is meant to be savored. Wilder's words remind us all that life, with all of it's joy and pain, is wonderful.

Performances: "Our Town'" closed Oct. 6, 2007.

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