Theatre Rusticle invites its audiences to explore and engage in a lifetime’s worth of memories in that small town we know so well, Grover's Corners. Thornton Wilder's Our Town, directed by Theatre Rusticle founder Allyson McMackon, is both an impressive visual and visceral experience that breathes exciting new life into a classic work.
Our Town dares to venture into the lives of those living in Grover's Corners with vigorous attention to movement and storytelling that adds a refreshing framework to the production. With Theatre Rusticle hailed as one of the leading physical theatre companies in Canada, the sheer amount of diverse and expressive movement in the play alone adds a refreshing dynamic. With no set, the actors do a tremendous job at using their bodies to collectively build their imaginary world and the places within it, filling the space with their energy.
The play takes place over three acts, each exploring major periods of the characters’ lives including falling in love, growing up and passing away. With so much physicality used in the telling of the story, this rendition of Our Town transcends the original text and imagery, creating fresh, striking scenes throughout.
I can't help but appreciate the nuance of personal flare that is seen throughout the whole production. The first thing you see upon entering the space is the actors warming up, chatting, stretching and adjusting their costumes. Then, in a spin-off of the original text, the actors make it very clear that they are putting on a performance, breaking the barrier between the performer and the audience member by outwardly talking about their process in creating certain elements of the show, such as their unique soundscape.
The show is also wonderfully guided by the ensemble (Hume Baugh, Augusto Bitter, Matthew Finlan, Sarah Gale, Jenna-Lee Hyde, François Macdonald, Viv Moore, Lucy Rupert, Priscilla Taylor and Geoffrey Whynot), as they ease the audience into the days and lives of the characters, often asking for commentary or providing their own. Setting up the show in this way not only sucks you in, but picks up the action as the performers jump through time between acts.
The cast's impressive physical performance is pushed further with the breathtaking transformation of the space using innovative lighting and costumes (designed by Michelle Ramsay and Brandon Kleiman respectively) that enhance the images created in this world.
The beauty and life brought to all elements of this production are truly what makes this play resonate so well. Despite the fact that this story takes place in the early 1900s, Theatre Rusticle’s exceptional version of the show allows for the play to hit home for a modern audience, and in many ways, successfully invites you to fall into caring about that little town that somehow ends up feeling like your own.
Our Town runs until April 2 at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre. For more information visit http://buddiesinbadtimes.com/show/our-town/.