“Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?” asks Thornton Wilder in act III of his Pulitzer Prize winning “Our Town”. Or, rather, Emily asks the question whose negative answer still rings true over 70 years since audiences first heard it. This classic, compulsive reading for most American students, is currently being staged at the Broad Stage in Santa Monica, in a modern, eclectic production directed by David Cromer and with a cast headed by Helen Hunt.
The life of a random New Hampshire village, as unremarkable as they come, is explored through the mindless happenings of an unremarkable day, the inevitability of marriage and the great equalizer that is death, reminding us of the preciousness of each moment we get to spend on earth. Each single life can be a meaningless repetition of millions of others but nonetheless less precious to each individual.
Helen Hunt is magnificent as the Stage Manager, leading the audience through time, events, observations and judgments. The audience becomes even more involved by being seated on stage, with the actors weaving in and out around them, pulling the spectators into a web of questions. A handful of years of memories in a village at the turn of the last century feel vivid and contemporary, the essence of the human condition not having changed that much.
It was my very first time at the Broad and by no means the last. The intimate size of this modern theatre makes for a pleasant experience. Parking is easy, making the whole evening hassle free. Coming in April is an interesting play, In Paris, from the Baryshnikov Arts Center.
“Our Town” at the Broad Stage until February 12