BWW Reviews: Lost Nation's OUR TOWN Hits the Mark
Lost Nation Theater continues its presentation of Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, OUR TOWN, through April 27 at Montpelier's City Hall Arts Center. First produced in New York City in 1938, the play enjoyed four subsequent Broadway revivals, making it one of the best-known pieces of classic American theater. Lost Nation's production features a 19-member company under the direction of Kim Allen Bent.
The story is straightforward. Set in the fictional early-20th-century town of Grover's Corners, N.H., childhood neighbors Emily Webb (Katelyn Manfre) and George Gibbs (Ryan Halsaver) grow up and get married. Around them, the residents of Grover's Corners live out their lives, while the omniscient Stage Manager (Bent) comments upon, and at times controls, the action. Wilder's script specifically calls for few props or set pieces, and stripped of those distractions, the characters' relationships are laid bare for the audience to examine.
Kim Allen Bent's Stage Manager curates slices of small town life smoothly, giving the play an easy flow that never drags. Michael Manion is a thoughtful Mr. Webb, with a handful of delightful comedic moments. Kathy Manfre's portrayal of Mrs. Webb feels particularly natural. Mark S. Roberts and Taryn Noelle deliver solid performances in the roles of Doctor and Mrs. Gibbs, and Ryan Halsaver brings a naïveté to George Gibbs that works beautifully alongside Katelyn Manfre's astute, quick-witted Emily Webb. Manfre's Emily is reason enough to see this production. Her journey from child to adult is flawless, and her "Goodbye world" monologue in Act III left few dry eyes in the house at Saturday night's performance.
Deceptively simple, the storyline provides a framework for reflection upon the transience of life and the human tendency to speed through it blindly. Wilder's characters come to realize that they have undervalued the most meaningful parts of their time on Earth - the beauty of ordinary moments and connection with fellow human beings. Lost Nation's production is a call to action for those of us who are still among the living. Slow down. Appreciate. Connect.
OUR TOWN runs through April 27, 2014 at City Hall Arts Center, 39 Main Street, Montpelier, VT:
Thursday 4/24 at 7pm
Friday 4/25 at 8pm
Saturday 4/26 at 8pm
Sunday 4/27 at 2pm
Tickets and additional information at www.LostNationTheater.org
Photo courtesy of Lost Nation Theater.