Remember the days without cell phones and social media, without looking for love on a dating site. The days when you knew all your neighbors and no one worried about locking their doors at night. Welcome to “Our Town.”
The Annapolis Shakespeare Company’s production of “Our Town” was the first in their new building on West Street and what a way to embrace their new space. The new space will soon have two operational theater spaces. “Our Town” is performed in the smaller of the areas that will be used in the further for educational programming. The new building is still under construction, so there are some areas to be cautious of as that happens. The rooms seemed a little on the cold side. I am sure this will all be figured out in the upcoming days.
…great humor and control hypnotizing the audience to focus on his every move and word….
The company created a very creative and intelligent version of Thornton Wilder’s play.
Despite the temporary small space the play directed by Sally Boyett used the limited lighting and space exceptionally to create a very memorable afternoon of theater. A truly magnificent use of space and creativity taking us on a journey back to a simpler life.
“People are meant to live two by two,” “Love life to live life but have life to love life,” just some of the great lines from this play.
The play is about living in a small town, life, love and relationships. It’s thought provoking in many ways making us think more about the things and people around us that we may take for granted a little each day. Remember the days when we spoke to our neighbors rather than sending them a text or checking out their Facebook page, “Our Town” takes us back to the 1700s when life was in many ways more simple yet not without its ups and downs.
Patrick Ryan Sullivan is magnificent as the Stage Manager. No – I wasn’t just memorized by his glossy English accent, (I am a Brit, I am immune). He guided the entire play with true emotion and poise; he spoke to the audience as if we were part of the town. He set the scene telling us the history past, present, and future of “Our Town” the town of Grover’s Corners in New Hampshire.
One man alone on the stage with at the most a chair as a prop manages to describe a whole town and it’s residents with his descriptive narrative delivered with perfection. He offers his rhetoric with great humor and control hypnotizing the audience to focus on his every move and word.
Sullivan also serves as literally the stage manager guiding the cast and minimal scenery through moments of the play and quickly moving them onto a new day. Some of the cast members took up seats in the audience helping with the commentary throughout.
The play centers on the relationship between George Gibbs played by JC Payne and Emily Webb played by Laura Rocklyn. No dating sites no social media, it is refreshing to watch love blossom out of conversation and living as neighbors and friends their whole lives. Payne plays George well, the young student and baseball player who longs to be a farmer. He stumbles between the young boy and the man he is soon to become overnight, and he pulls it off.
Rocklyn is delightful as Emily. She takes us on her journey through the shy young lover to the married wife to her burial. A true talent, Rocklyn gives a very moving performance.
George’s parents Dr. and Mrs. Gibbs played by Will Cooke, and Renata Plecha holds the family together. They work well together creating the perfect household and raising children with a loving but strong hand. Amber James plays Rebecca Gibbs, their daughter.
The Gibb’s mirror in many ways by the Mr. and Mrs. Webb played by Brian Keith McDonald and Olivia Ercolano. As parents, they are doing the best they can to raise a stable family. We first see McDonald as he introduced the audience to the town’s local paper of which he is the editor. A shy, unassuming man, however, he does offer and deliver well some unexpected humor. Their son Wally Webb is played by Colton Needles who takes on several roles in the play.
The first time we see Bill Dennison is as Professor Willard, he rose from the audience to give us some insight into life in Grover’s Corners. Dennison flip-flopped through several characters during the play, playing each one differently and convincingly, not an easy task. He plays Simon Stimson a choir leader mocked by the town for his drinking and antics; he hides his demons well.
Kecia Campbell plays Mrs. Soames a pleasant and humorous addition to the cast, brimming with happiness and love. I mentioned that the play provoked thought, I am sure I wasn’t the only person to leave with just one of her pertinent lines stuck in my head. “The most important thing is to be happy.”
The costumes from the 20th century designed by Sandra Spence are a big hit and accurate to the generation. The lighting, the New England dialects and the use of space make this show a must see.
Running Time: Two hours, with two 10-minute intermissions.
“Our Town” plays through February 26, 2017, at Annapolis Shakespeare Company. For tickets, call the box office at 410-415-3513 or head to their website here and purchase online.