I went to see “Our Town” based on a few friends’ suggestions; they had seen it in Chicago/New York and praised it highly. Playwright Joel Kim Booster said, “See it see it see it. Cromer is a goddamn genius, and this show is pretty great.” Another friend, director Derek Bertelsen said, “Do see it! I saw it in NY and it’s the best thing I’ve ever seen. And I hate everything.” After reading a few reviews that mirrored these opinions I went to see it this evening.
I enjoyed Helen Hunt’s portrayal of the Stage Manager in a contemporary setting and how interactive she was with the audience. I also enjoyed the lighting design. The fixtures effectively created the atmosphere of an assembly hall in school. I have seen better George and Emily monologues, particularly the monologue when George is expressing his feelings for Emily, and Emily’s final monologue. This could have something to do with the fact that every theater student who attends Millikin University (where I attended), no matter what the major, has to perform these monologues. So lets just say that I am an audience member with some expectations as I have seen some terrible versions of these monologues, and some excellent ones. James McMenamin’s delivery of George’s monologue was very relatable. We could feel his uncomfortable vibe and everyone in the audience was smiling with reminiscent thoughts. All in all actor James McMenamin did a terrific job. In general, Jennifer Grace did a good job with Emily, but the ending Emily monologue delivery was only about average. That monologue has the potential to be a very powerful piece, but my emotional response to it was minimal. The ending set choice saved the show for me.
David Cromer’s staging was clever, interactive, and the ending set reveal, though predictable, was a great spectacle. Rather than appearing from behind a simple black curtain, a more interesting choice could have been made. The base of the idea, however, was both logical and unique. So logical, that I can’t believe the ending hasn’t been done like that before. I commend Cromer for that and can see how my friends had the reaction and recommendations they had. All in all I enjoyed the show as well, but an extra burst of emotion at the ending would have made my night.
Some [blank] you should know:
The tickets are a bit on the expensive side, so if you do go, make sure you shell out just a little bit more to sit in the main area and NOT in the balcony or ‘Level B.’ Speaking with someone during the show who switched seats at the first intermission, (he saw an open seat) he said it was a completely different experience and way more enjoyable. I spent $80 bucks on my ticket, and that was with a discount, I was sitting in ‘Level A’, which were great seats. The ‘Premiere’ seats are the best, considerably more expensive, but you sit directly on the stage, so that’s neat.