• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Eugene Weekly : Coverstory : 7.17.08

 

Oregon Shakespeare Festival:

Traditional Innovator A Q&A with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch

Organized Insanity OSF’s costume shop

Last Man Standing Othello on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 10

It’s All Just a Case of Mistaken Identity A Comedy of Errors on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 12

Postmodern Angst, Zany Style The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler at the Bowmer Theatre through Nov. 1

Man Alone, and Whiny Coriolanus at the New Theatre through Nov. 2

Bare Bones Our Town on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 11

People in Motion John Sipes moves, but not to the music

 

Bare Bones

Our Town on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 11

Mrs. Webb (Kimberly Scott) and Mrs. Gibbs (Demetra Pittman). Photo: T. Charles Erickson

A good production of Thornton Wilder’s 1938 play Our Town desperately needs two things: A great Stage Manager and a strong Emily. The first 20th-century play performed outdoors at the OSF handily answers one of those needs.

The OSF’s visually complex Elizabethan Stage complicates the matter of Wilder’s direction for a bare stage, but the designers and director Chay Yew keep other things simple. The only set pieces consist of chairs and tables; characters famously must perform everything from biscuit making to leading a horse without props. Sure, it might be easy to laugh when Demetra Pittman as Mrs. Gibbs mimes stringing beans in an unrealistic fashion, and sure, the audience snickers when actors use their hands to create a horse’s clopping hooves — but Wilder’s intention was to make the audience a bit uncomfortable, to force the audience to take an active part in creating the illusion.

Our Town, commonly produced in high schools, provides grown-up pains and pleasures — love, depression, death — and details: the smell of heliotropes at night, the sound of a baseball smacking into a mitt. As the Stage Manager, Anthony Heald projects a mix of understanding and cynicism that marks Wilder’s attitude toward any powers that be. Richard Howard makes a fine Mr. Webb, newspaper editor and nervous giver of advice to his son-in-law, and Kimberly Scott creates a Mrs. Webb who’s a no-nonsense yet caring mother to Emily (Mahira Kakkar). Unfortunately, Kakkar plays most of her scenes with the same furrowed brow and worried tone, which drains energy from the powerful final scenes. Still, audiences can enjoy looking up at the stars along with the characters, smelling Ashland’s flowers on their way back to their cars, hearing Lithia Creek — and knowing that life’s contingency makes it not only worthwhile but precious. — Suzi Steffen

 

Traditional Innovator A Q&A with OSF Artistic Director Bill Rauch

Organized Insanity OSF’s costume shop

Last Man Standing Othello on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 10

It’s All Just a Case of Mistaken Identity A Comedy of Errors on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 12

Postmodern Angst, Zany Style The Further Adventures of Hedda Gabler at the Bowmer Theatre through Nov. 1

Man Alone, and Whiny Coriolanus at the New Theatre through Nov. 2

Bare Bones Our Town on the Elizabethan Stage through Oct. 11

People in Motion John Sipes moves, but not to the music

More reviews can be found in our online archives