Written by 7:18 am Costa Mesa, Costa Mesa Playhouse, Review, Theater, Uncategorized

Our Town @ Costa Mesa Playhouse – Review

photo credit: Daniel Mertan

Written by Alina Mae Wilson

I recently watched Our Town over at the Costa Mesa Playhouse. It’s a story about the lives of people living in a town in 1901 and (without giving too much away) the need to appreciate and cherish life as you live it. Conceptually the script is strong, and it is easy to understand why and how it was so well received on Broadway once upon a time—but with a set decorated sparsely as a specification of the story, it is essential that high energy levels and raw authenticity shine through each performance.

Story:

Our Town is initially presented as the casual perusal of the daily life of a small town’s inhabitants. It opens with a lackluster song which I think is meant to convey the soulful simplicity of folksy life in 1901. It’s not exactly a song you would expect to go home singing, but it might have been more engaging if everyone had given a moderately similar amount of energy. As it is, some people in the cast seemed uneasy and tentative in the opening. Alli Maier, as Mrs. Soames, stands out from beginning to end for her electric presence. Granted, Mrs. Soames comes across as “quirky,” which may have been part of her appeal.

The song shifts to the Stage Manager (played by Mia Josimovic), introducing not the characters but each individual actor. (This breaking of the fourth wall occurs a few more times throughout the night and is always enjoyable.) The Stage Manager spent some time narrating the events of the story, and Mia Josimovic was always a welcome sight with her warm and casual demeanor, talking us through the events of the story. Speaking of the story, eventually, the focus shifts more to the relationship between two teenagers and their blossoming romance. Somewhere along the way, their teen affection shifts into something more, and we learn about the value of appreciating life.

Acting/Direction:

Our Town felt relatively slow. Some of the cast was a bit lethargic, and while they showed a technical understanding of their character’s emotions, they failed in sounding like what one might consider “real people.” Essentially, there were a lot of stilted conversations about beans (literal beans. The characters were shucking beans here). While it isn’t impossible to have an interesting show celebrating the simplicity of life, in this case, I think Costa Mesa Playhouse would have done better to attempt something with a little more “written-in” excitement.

The actors were good, but if you are going to have minimal scenery and a plot centered entirely on the typicality of everyday existence, you need to have high intensity and emotional investment across the board.

Review
7.2 Overall
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Story7
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May 12th – June 5,2023

 

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