Our Town, directed by Sarah Frankcom, is a daring piece of theatre by all involved including compelling artistic choices. The audience become almost as committed to the performance as the actors, feeling needed and in many ways relied on. Almost immediately after entering the performance space, the fourth wall is broken and cast and spectator become one, adding a personal approach to the plays narrative. Eight tables give a friendly and welcoming formulation with an undertone of anticipation, although the need to start with the audience on stage has no real purpose.
In simpler terms, it is a play within a play, following a bunch of people getting on with their lives. They make decisions, live together as a community, and then they die - that's what people do. It is a snap shot of a time, with themes that we as the spectator can relate to. What stands out for me is the artistic decision to have almost all the actors performing in their own accents. This, alongside setting the play in the 21st century - plants the piece firmly in the here and now. It is a clever, yet simple choice and modernises the play effectively.
The three parts of the play are built around Birth, Love and Death. Musical variation breaks up the tense scenes, offering light and shade just at the right moments. Our attention is drawn to the simple details in life, that sometimes we overlook but are marked clearly for our attention within the play. The cast are strong. They speak their dialogue realistically but their movements contrast, touching on physical Theatre. Although, the piece often feels cluttered with everyone becoming one, confusing the characters. Subtly the actors mime props, giving a stronger representation of the objects they are portraying. The minimal use of set is refreshing, spectators use their imagination more to set the scene.
The stand out performance comes from the Stage Manager played by Youssef KerKour. He is both daring and warm, with choices that are inventive and earned. He moves the characters, the scene and in fact the whole story throughout the play. He provides direction and narrates the story with humour and passion. If it was not for the narrator the piece might have been highly confusing. I left, pondering on the fact that ‘life is to short. We should live in the moment, appreciating what we have. Because one day it will be gone’. - Rebecca Phillipson