Little Theatre Company

Live theatre in the heart of Burton upon Trent

Our Town

by Thornton Wilder

Performed: March 2012

Our Town by Thornton Wilder

A review by Dave Stacey

A PLAY about a small New Hampshire town where nothing much ever happens — apart from births, marriages and deaths— is strangely full of interest.

Thornton Wilder’s prize-winning 1937 drama Our Town about life between 1901 and 1913 in the back of beyond is proving oddly riveting for the audiences at Burton’s Brewhouse this week.

Burton Little Theatre Company is reviving a production which older generations of its members presented in 1960 and 1975, and relies on theatre-goers to imagine a great deal — the milkman’s horse and bottles, the cookers on which two housewives prepare meals, the plates and the food on the tables in their two homes, the organ played in one of the local chapels, and much more.

This is appropriate enough, since the play aims at the minds rather than the eyes of those who watch it (and some of the thoughts expressed about marriage, child-bearing and even life itself, which might once have seemed cliches, are nowadays the stuff of heated political debate!).

Peter Clemson has the marathon task of telling all that needs to be known about the little US town and the people in it and he performs it compellingly.

Stephen Waite and Grace Clarke are seen as awkward children, then as a courting couple, and as bride and groom with agonising wedding day doubts. Later Grace — whose character dies in childbirth is shown as a dead soul allowed to return to visit the living people she has loved.

An excellent characterisation is provided by Phil Robinson as her father, a local newspaper editor who is remarkably cheerful despite having to bring out a paper in a town devoid of news.

John Bowness directs.

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