Isn’t life realistic enough? Why do we need dramas to remind us about the cruelty of life?
Nevertheless, reality is reality and attitude is a different matter. As Mrs. Soames, one of the characters in “Our Town,” says, “Wasn't life awful and wonderful?”
The University Theatre production “Our Town” is running in Hemsley Theatre in Vilas Hall from Oct. 12 to Oct. 29. It provides a chance for the audience to spend a few hours reflecting on their own lives while enjoying the show, with some retrospection on love, marriage, saying goodbye, growing old and regret.
Art is based on human experiences and is largely intended for relatability; such is the universal story of “Our Town.”Most of the ensemble members sit in the audience, making the boundary blurry between the audience and the actors, as if we all belong to this cast’s community. Similar to life, “Our Town” is so immersive that you might miss the subtle beauties in this story.
The three acts of “Our Town” give three themes in life. Act I is like a simple and dull song. Act II is full of hope, sweetness and tensions of youthful love. Act III is the most touching, with heaviness and a melancholic life lesson.
Live performance develops overtime within the theatre, but “Our Town” was still a bit awkward and immature on the Thursday night preview, well-illustrated in Act I. The sluggish plot of Act I makes the job even harder for the cast to keep the audience engaged at all times. The rich meaning behind well written lines by playwright Thornton Wilder were not communicated effectively due to a lack of fluctuation in tone when the actors said their lines. It seems that the two housewives, Mrs. Webb and Mrs. Gibbs, are only having a daily small talk, but the bittersweet emotions of bigger dreams being drowned by daily routines should be conveyed through tone.
Determined by the content created by Wilder, Act II and Act III are more exciting and easier to follow than Act I. However, that can be a challenge to the University Theatre cast because the audience does get a chance to take a break or leave without staying for Act II and Act III during the first intermission. The cast may need to polish Act I more to convince some impatient audience members to stay for the whole show.
It is cruel, but true, that those of us who are still living often live with “mindlessness and ignorance,” as Simon Stimson, the church organist in “Our Town, said in Act III. Live while you still can. Cherish everything that you have before it is too late. Live every moment of your life mindfully.
Go see “Our Town” while it is still running in the Hemsley Theatre.