The Breakthrough Theater Company
by Carl F. Gauze
By Thornton Wilder
Directed by Wade Hair
Staring Mark Davis, Larry Stalling, and Carla Davis
I struggled to find meaning in this work for many years until someone pointed out the point of this story is to have no big point at all. That’s…cosmic… Our Town it’s just ordinary people doing ordinary things, and achieving ordinary results. And that’s what makes life beautiful. It also keeps down production costs as these folks in Grover’s Corners are thrifty people if nothing else, Their town is a mere step ladder and a few folding chairs.
We arrive on the skeletons set of a small New England town in 1901. It’s rural but proud, remote but hard working, and connected to a bigger world by the railroad. Life revolves around a wide selection of churches and the business of planting and harvesting. Our master of ceremony and stage manager (Davis) and the town newspaperman Charles Webb (Gerald Geile) narrate the statistics and demographics of Grover’s Corners. We meet the towns people, all families of modest means but a willingness to work. Town physician Frank Gibbs (Stallings) delivers babies while his wife (Eileen Antonescu) manages their garden. Canning 40 jars of green beans will help them thought he winter. Mr. Webb run the local paper (two issues a week!) and raise a daughter Emily (Parker King). She falls in love with that boy next door, George Gibbs (Josh Scott.) They marry, only for her to die a few years later from complications of life in general and childbirth in particular. But death for her isn’t painful, it’s just boring and Emily hangs out with her ancestors, waiting patiently of the end of the world. I suspect they still have a while to wait.
With a spare stage and a largish cast, we see a mirror of our own lives, which remain basically the same even with all our electronic toys. People make a living, people make meals, and people make a life all while conquering the minor stumbles along the way. Church organist Simon Stimpson (Phil Fugate) has the largest bump in his road, he’s an alcoholic trying to lead the choir at either the Methodist or Presbyterian into heaven, I can’t tell them apart. Wives dream of trips to Paris that will never happen, antique dealers sneak around looking for steals, and kids prefer baseball to algebra. Can’t say I blame them; baseball can pay very well and is of little use in farming. It’s life, but with an interest in statistics. The show fits well in the Breakthrough space with its creaky floor and tight seating, Personally, I nearly tripped a choir director and two church ladies just by sitting in the front row. I also became more intimate with an actress I barely knew by just sitting in my chair. You never know what you’ll stumble on or who you will stumble in this ultra intimate slice of life.