Archikulture Digest

Our Town

Our Town

By Thornton Wilder

Directed by Bobby Bell

Seminole Community College, Lake Mary FL</strong>

Thornton Wilder’s memory play about appreciating the minutia of life finds constant renewal in schools everywhere. The large cast, old fashioned values and general lack of controversy guarantee its persistence, even though it sorely lacks the classical antagonist/ protagonist relation that make drama dramatic. The plot is simple – In 1901 Grover’s Corners, New Hampshire life slowly changes after the industrial revolution. There’s a steam train and a telephone and a sense that while nothing happens, big changes loom. The notional action centers around the families of Dr. Frank Gibb (John Kelly) and editor and publisher Mr. Charles Webb (Larry Stalling). Their respective children George (Nathan Bartman) and Emily (Samantha O’Hara) are at the brink of sexuality, and by the second act 3 years are gone and they wed. More years pass by the third act – now Emily has died in child birth, along with George’s mother Julia (Meredith Johnson). As the dead chat amongst themselves, we learn that if there’s something important in life, it’s all the little things that you pay no attention to at the time.

Maintaining the narrative flow is the Stage Director (a very clean but Bobby Bell). The cast is mostly students, peppered with local stalwarts like Kelly (know for his excellent funeral acting) and jittery Stallings. Some highlights were Simon Stimson (Michael Sapp) as the town choir master and drunk, the gracious Mrs. Myrtle Webb (Tara Corless) and George’s younger sister, curious Rebecca Gibbs (Samantha Haslacker.) While the undertaker had trouble with his lines and a few actors were a bit stiff, the biggest problem lay in the tricky New England Accent. A few of the braver students attempted the slow, acerbic nuance of granite hard farmers or a weak “Ayup,” but it would have better to just stick with their native flat central Florida accent. Even Mr. Bell sounded like a laconic Irishman.

Our Town, like rural living, does have a charm that can grow on you, or drive you to seek out Mr. Stimson for some company. This production succeeded despite its scattered flaws, and the enthusiasm of a young cast finding itself on stage for the first time is one of those charms. There’s love, death, and mild debauchery here, but that’s not the story – rather, watching a really nice sunset or coming home to a warm house on a ten below zero day represent the drama in Wilder’s world. That’s nice enough, but I still wish Emily’s death was more heartbreaking instead of just a matter of fact life event.

For more information on the Seminole Community College Theater program, please visit http://www.scc-fl.edu/arts/theatre/</em>


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