Posted by: sergius 02:05 pm EDT 03/19/17

The world is freezing, drowning, or, these days, burning up. Regardless, for Thornton Wilder, cataclysm is the beginning of hope. I've seen THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH twice before. It's always been a strange play of course but never, to me, a wondrous one. Its metatheatrics, which must have been startling in 1942, can easily overwhelm or otherwise obscure Wilder's greater purpose which relates I think to the ways in which stories are aspirational; it's imagination, or wonder, that gives us the future. It's easy to get bogged down by Wilder's clever, whimsical despair and miss how it resolves in a hope that's no less wise than the cynicism that eternally precedes and follows it. But in this production, both conditions are equally, movingly represented and the play seems like a revelation because of it. Arbus manages to capture the unending tension between hope and dread that's at the heart of Wilder's great fantasia. The play is especially relevant in this historical moment when it seems again that catastrophe is creeping close behind us. Special mention here to Mary Wiseman, a recent Julliard graduate, who's about as perfect as it gets as a Lucille Ball-like Sabina, a sort of herald for the end of the world. And if it's Lucy at the gates of hell, how bad can it be?

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