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Posts Tagged ‘David Cromer’

Apparently, this 1938 Thornton Wilder play is being performed somewhere in the US almost every day, but it’s rarely revived here. This is a re-staging of the highly successful 2009 Broadway production with David Cromer both directing and playing the stage manager (the narrater, who also covers a few small roles). The Almeida’s director Rupert Goold says he was compelled to bring it here.

They’ve kept much of the in-the-round re-configuration for Little Revolutions, with the audience on three sides and the new section of balcony part of the staging. Two front rows are further forward, allowing scenes to be played behind and over them. It’s otherwise ‘without decor’ as the playwright intended. There’s no stage lighting as such, just different degrees of lightness to replicate dawn, dusk and daytime. The actors wear what appear to be their own clothes and speak in their own accents – a cocktail of Liverpudlian, Scottish, Yorkshire, Cockney etc. They mime actions. There is some inclusion and participation from members of the audience.

It’s set on Grovers Corner, New Hampshire, typical small town America, at the beginning of the 20th century. The first act is called Daily Life and it is, mostly involving the Gibbs and Webb families whose kids George & Emily are in their late teens. The second act, called Love & Marriage, centres on the marriage of George & Emily three years later with one flashback scene. The third act, called Death & Dying, is set in a graveyard where there is about to be a burial. The dead converse with each other but the living can’t hear them. In this act, in another flashback scene, they diverge (I think) from Wilder’s staging intentions.

It must have been way ahead of its time in 1938. Here, it’s all very well done. I didn’t dislike it, but I’m not enthusiastic either. The biggest puzzle for me is why Rupert Goold was so compelled to revive it. To borrow a phrase from the inspiration for the Almeida production or Mr Burns……meh.

 

 

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