A Slower Pace of Life in 'Our Town'

Life in small-town America more than a century ago was very different from what is is today.  Thornton Wilder’s classic play Our Town demonstrates the slower pace at which it was lived, and also notes some of the similarities. People, after all, don’t change too much in a hundred years.  They still get up in the morning, go to school or work, fall in love; they still have their moments of triumph or tragedy.  Some people still take time to watch a sunset or smell a rose.

The  actors who undertake all of this stuff of life, under the direction of Brian Richmond, are skilled and believable – we like them and cheer them on. At times we might wish they’d get on with it, but they present us with real characters, and make us interested in their day-to-day lives.  Shauna Baird and Cyllene Richmond are both quietly brilliant as the two main no-nonsense town ladies; while  Brian Linds and  Michael Armstrong portray their stalwart husbands. Julien Bruce and Grace Vukovic play the shy and innocent lovers with charming naivété.  Women may not have had the vote in those days, and most of them would never have a career outside of marriage, but their strong influence is abundantly clear.

While not being a musical in the ordinary sense of the word, Our Town features three excellent musicians, including the music director Sarah Tradewell, and a quiet but efficient chorus of voices.  The meaty part of this beloved play is, of course, that of the Stage Manger/Narrator, played here by Gary Farmer, who is no stranger to Blue Bridge audiences. Farmer is an excellent and versatile actor, whose work is much admired; but if he had speeded up his performance just a tad, the play could have been tightened up from its lengthy almost-three hours.

However, that is a very small quibble in the larger picture.  The job of choreographing these nineteen actors of vastly differing ages and personalities on a relatively small stage, is huge, so kudos to the director, dance captain (Jana Morrison) and the choreographer (Treena Stubel) for a stellar job.

The Blue Bridge Repertory Theatre’s production of Our Town runs at the Roxy Theatre (Quadra and Hillside) until July 16.  Tickets at bluebridgetheatre.ca or 250-382-3370.  Subscriptions for the company’s exciting 2017/18 tenth anniversary season are also available.

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