Constellation Theatre Company’s production of this quirky mid-century piece demonstrates that it’s still relevant, and that’s to the credit of the performances (like Tonya Beckman’s shape-shifting Sabina) as well as the writing. Consider the passage in the second act where Sabina’s actor breaks character (in a maneuver that prefigures Lanford Wilson’s Book of Days) and refuses to play a scene as “written,”
Because there are some lines in that scene that would hurt some people’s feelings and I don’t think the theatre is a place where people’s feelings ought to be hurt.
The production has tweaked a few of the lines (Sabina’s “understudy” been sent to Peet’s for a latte), but Beckman’s natural delivery of Wilder’s scripted lines makes them sound like 21st-century improvisations.
The despair in Beckman’s reading of “Oh, the world’s an awful place, and you know it is. I used to think something could be done about it; but I know better now.” is monumental.
Steven Carpenter’s hale and hearty George Antrobus has a radio-friendly baritone; Lolita Marie gives us an earthy Maggie Antrobus; and Ben Lauer’s honking mammoth is adorable.
The ambitious set design entailed a rather complicated changeover into Act 2 on this Saturday matinee.
- The Skin of Our Teeth, by Thornton Wilder, directed by Mary Hall Surface, Constellation Theatre Company, Washington