Monday, April 23, 2007

Excellent essay about OUR TOWN in the NYTimes

Jeremy McCarter says some of the same things I said a while back about OUR TOWN.

McCarter's essay here.

I do have to disagree with this bit though:
Grover's Corners is, in retrospect, an unbearable place: quite content to be homogeneous, conformist, anti-intellectual and lacking ''any culture or love of beauty.'' When staged properly, the play doesn't let us to feel simple nostalgia. We ought to weep at Emily's famous line not because she finds earth wonderful, but because she was unable to find it so during her close-minded life in her close-minded town -- which is, of course, our town.
While I have no doubt that McCarter would find Grover's Corners unbearable, Emily certainly does not. And it's surprising, since drama critics tend to be such irony mongers, that he doesn't get the irony of Wilder's line about lacking any culture or love of beauty, when it's all over the play, from the flowers that the women grow to the church choir to simple appreciation of good weather. I'm certain that Wilder's point is that snobs believe that culture and beauty don't count unless they're on display in a museum or featured in the NYTimes Arts section.

Most people would NOT find Grover's Corners unbearable, and whether drama critics believe it or not, they are people too. Those of us who can't live in Grover's Corners come to live in the city. But then some of us get pretentious and kewl and believe that our understanding of life is superior to that of the Grover's Corners townsfolk, when, what Wilder is saying, is that deep down we are all the same. Which is why theatre hipsters, who want their plays fresh from an angry young man like John Osborne from 50 years ago, heap derision onto OUR TOWN. Cause unlike Emily, THEY are going to live forever and they have no patience for tiresome mortals.