By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
Whitehead, who's wrestled her share of troubled teen roles at WaterTower and elsewhere, floats into the last act of Our Town with the right blend of confusion, melancholy and joy. "Good-bye, Grover's Corners...Mama and Papa," says Emily, taking her leave in the famous monologue at the end of the play. "Good-bye to clocks ticking...and Mama's sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new-ironed dresses and hot baths...and sleeping and waking up."
That's Thornton Wilder's plainspoken American prose at its most poignant. And it's the epiphanic message of Our Town that comes through so clearly in this production. Wilder has Emily relive an ordinary day to see how people, too busy chatting about nonsense to enjoy the sound of a fresh-snapped bean, miss life's little miracles. Buddhists call it "mindful living," giving meaning to every breath, every mundane task. Bumper sticker philosophy says it more bluntly: Life is short and then you die. As the Stage Manager in the play says, "You're 20, 22 and whoosh, you're 70." Emily learns the lesson too late.
But we can be reminded of it by Martin and his cast, talking and moving as naturally as life—interrupted by one single, startling scene of hyper-realism toward the end. They create a mindful, meaningful Our Town. All those little details do matter, on that stage and in our own short stay in whatever little corner we inhabit in the United States, Western Hemisphere, the Earth, etc. Go see for yourself. And when you walk out of the theater, stop for a moment, look up at the sky and try to taste the moonlight.