Critical Review on Our Town Essay
Critical Review on Our Town
On 26 September 2002 I went with my English class to see a performance of Our Town by Thornton Wilder which was held in Wallace High School, Lisburn. Wilder wrote the play in 1938 but it is set between 1897 and 1913. In act one Wilder shows us the basic daily life in Grover’s Corners, a small American town. The stage manager gives us the background to each character involved in the act. Act two is three years on and is about Emily and George falling in love and getting married.
Mrs Webb shows real emotion for the first time in the play and Emily is unsure whether she should marry George or not, but her father soon calms her down and makes her realise that George is definitely the one. The whole play is a challenge to any producer but I think act three is the most difficult. It is nine years after act two and it is Emily’s funeral. Emily died following childbirth. We see that some of the townspeople have also died, including Mrs Gibbs and Wally Webb.
Emily is trying to deal with not living with George any more on their beautiful farm. She then begins to grasp the fact that the life she has now is better than the life she had with George on earth. They don’t – understand – do they? Throughout the play there is no scenery apart from a tree dividing the two family households. The actions were mimed such as when Mrs Webb was in the kitchen she pretended to open cupboards and set the table. However, when both families were eating and drinking I felt they did not exaggerate their actions enough.
They ate and drank very lethargically. All the actors maintaining their American accent impressed me but they all sounded different because the producer had obviously not told them to do a particular type of American accent. Furthermore, I could not hear what the stage manager was saying at some points in the play because she talked too fast. Mrs Webb was similar when telling Emily and Wally off, and sometimes when she was talking to Mrs Gibbs. Timothy Taggart played the part of Doctor Frank Gibbs.
He was made to look like a typical doctor wearing a dark suit with a white shirt. He was always cleanly shaven and dressed neatly. He portrayed the character really well, giving the audience the impression that he was a sincere but very pleasant man. Claire Lorimer played Mrs Julia Gibbs. She was dressed in a long flaired skirt and a blouse to indicate the ‘motherly’ look. Claire fitted the mother character very well because of her small, round figure. Peter Noble played George Gibbs. He wore trousers, a shirt and a waistcoat.
In act one he was just a boring boy next door who quite fancied the girl he had lived beside all his life but in act two his notion of her turned into a mature love. He played the character very well because he made the difference in his personality very clear when he turned from being an immature schoolboy into a man. Rebecca Gibbs featured only in act one as the irritating little sister played by Rebecca Findon-Henry. She wore a pretty blue dress and had her hair in plaited bunches. Gareth Stewart played the part of Editor Charles Webb.
He wore a brown coat the majority of the time that made him look like a very professional editor. Kerri-Anne Troughton played Mrs Myrtle Webb. She was dressed the same as Mrs Gibbs, only in different colours. Her acting was incredible; she was a brilliant mother figure in the play. Gillian Taylor played Emily Webb. She wore a pretty dress, much the same as Rebecca Gibbs. She acted reasonably well but I felt she did not show enough emotion in act two when she had the conversation with George and in act three when she watched herself on her twelfth birthday.
Wallace Webb (Wally) was played by Richard Hunter; he featured only in acts one and three. He wore clothes similar to George, trousers, shirt and a waistcoat. Cara Curran played the Stage Manager. She wore black trousers and a black blouse. I think the reason for her being dressed in black was so she could watch the play on stage without being noticed by the audience. She played the part well and she shocked the audience because everyone expected the stage manager to be male.
She handled the role of the stage manager well. It was a difficult role because she had to act other characters too, such as a passer-by, Mr Morgan and the minister. I thought she did not emphasize some of her lines enough though, because it sounded like she just rhymed them off. Before the play started, I did not think it would be a successful production but the Wallace High’s performance surprised me. The actors performed to a high standard and I enjoyed it thoroughly.