I saw Our Town last week at the Barrow Street Theater, directed by David Cromer. It’s housed inside the Greenwich House, a facility that offers support to communities in need including those living with HIV and AIDS, alcoholism, abuse, and mental illness. The theater itself feels more like the gymnasium you might have performed “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown” in when you were 11 (if you were me). For Our Town, there was no stage lighting, and as Thorton Widler calls for, little set. I opted for the cheap seats, which ended up being on the stage itself.
I had never seen the play before, and I hadn’t read it in high school. I came into it with a bias from a family member, who told me this particular production caused him to weep, and even as he told me about it, he did in fact begin to cry. He said something like, “If you know a person who is dying, or ever have, this will get to you.” I actually found myself crying (on stage!) during the second act, which precedes the death-and-dying act. The second act is when the children come of age and marry (at 17). The mothers’ grief, the fathers’ shame, and the wild, childlike fear of the betrothed all had me in their clutches.
Also, if you sit in the onstage seats, you might be asked by the “Stage Manager” to say a line or two from the play. I was. My off-Broadway debut!