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The Boston Globe

Theater & art

Stage Review

David Cromer brings unique approach to ‘Our Town’

The thing about Thornton Wilder’s 1938 Pulitzer Prize winner, “Our Town,” is that he really wanted it to be your town. To that end, he stripped his stage bare. “When the theatre pretends to give the real thing in canvas and wood and metal,” he wrote in his preface to the play, “it loses something of the realer thing which is its true business.” The houses of Dr. Gibbs and Mr. Webb are suggested by a pair of vine-and-flower-covered trellises. (“There’s some scenery for those who think they have to have scenery,” the Stage Manager explains.) For the rest, you’re encouraged to use your imagination.

Obie winner David Cromer has certainly used his imagination in his staging of “Our Town,” which ran off-Broadway for more than 600 performances and is now being presented by the Huntington Theatre Company in the intimate, 250-seat Roberts Studio Theatre at the Boston Center for the Arts. The 32 performers — 29 of whom are local Boston actors — weave among the audience members, making us in effect silent residents of Wilder’s fictional Grover’s Corners, N.H. And though the three acts of “Our Town” are set in 1901, 1904, and 1913, the performers wear what look like their own clothes. Cromer’s goal is to dispel the nostalgia that has settled on productions of the play and shine a light on what he calls Wilder’s “observation of the facts of human existence, of human behavior from a very objective point of view.”

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