By Larry Taylor/Garden Grove Journal
“Our Town “ is a 1938 three-act play by American playwright Thornton Wilder. Set in the fictional American small town of Grover’s Corners, it tells the story of an average town’s citizens in the early 1900s as seen through everyday lives between 1901 and 1913. The play is performed without a set and the actors mime their actions without the use of props.
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, Wilder uses devises, such as narration by a stage manager, who welcomes the audience to the fictional town in New Hampshire, early on a May morning in 1901. In the opening scene, the stage is largely empty, except for some tables and chairs that represent the homes of the Gibbs and Webb families, the setting of most of the action in Act I.
The set remains sparse throughout the rest of the play.After the Stage Manager’s introduction, the activities of a typical day begin.
The play remains popular today and revivals are frequent. A perennial favorite in high schools, it may often be the first production seen by students.
In this new take on the old favorite, Noah Haidle’s “Smokefall” transforms it into something different but much the same at South Coast Repertory’s Segerstrom Stage. He covers a Midwestern family years later during three generations in the 20th Century. Not much happens – just as in real life – but in a sense everytthing does. In this situation daily events are still narrated by an ironic Stage Manager (Lee Marks).
The Manager greets us and we are introduced to a daily cycle of household activity. First up, we are taken on Grandpa’s walk of the dog Sparky (Max). The old man has a little trouble remembering the way home, but Sparky gets him there.
Wife and mother Violet has two fetuses in her womb, and talks to them constantly, as does her husband Daniel (Corey Brill), who unfortunately leaves home soon.
Not much is heard from sister Beauty (the silent, expressive Carmela Corbett). What she finally says, says it all.
The action takes a tragicomic turn in the latter stages, But what is reveals needs to said. Director Ann Kaufman underlines the message with emphasis. “Smokefall” can be seen in Costa Mesa through April 24.