The Open Air Theatre is one of the largest auditoriums in London and is also the oldest, professional and permanent outdoor theatre in Britain. It has hosted fantastic shows and events of every nature; from theatre productions to comedy shows and even music concerts. If you have ever been to the Open Air Theatre in Regent’s Park, you will know that it is truly spectacular and right now, it is home to Our Town; written by Thornton Wilder.
Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize for this stunning play that celebrates in-depth what it means to be human and the strong bonds that unite us all. Beautifully directed by Ellen McDougall it is by far the biggest ever UK production. Despite its age, the play is as relevant now as it has always been.
In a small American town, this play focuses on the ordinary lives of ordinary people – which may seem a bit uninspiring. However, despite the theme, Thornton Wilder managed to beautifully capture the attention and the mind of the viewer for long after the play has finished.
Our Town follows the citizens of the fictional Grover’s Corners and is set between 1901 and 1913. Wilder explores the bonds that hold the community together. Focusing on Emily and George (Francesca Henry and Arthur Hughes respectively), the story tells the tales of marriage, death and all of the beautiful and yet minuscule moments that lie in between. The one thing that really stands out in this story amongst many others is that it is quite a simple and normal story; a story that would not go amiss being heard down the local pub, or from a friendly relative. And that is why it resonates so deeply with audiences of many generations.
To be able to watch this production from the gorgeous settings of the Open Air Theatre allows you to remain in touch with wildlife; feeling the wind come across you and gazing at the leafy settings allows the audience to understand Wilder’s discussion of the beauty of life. In a world full of dramatisation and sensationalism this is a story that helps the audience to remember that sometimes the ordinary, and the normal, is also worth appreciating and celebrating.
Jacob Sparrow, the casting director, has worked incredibly well at piecing together a cast that matches the characters perfectly and alongside some fantastic musical work from composer Orlando Gough, lighting from Lizzie Powell and a set designed by the incredible Rosie Elnile; Our Town is a production that has really come to life at the Open Air Theatre and in our eyes has really found a natural and soulful home.
It is no wonder that Edward Albee once said about the play: “A superbly written, gloriously observed, tough, and breathtaking statement of what it is to be alive.” A quote that resonated strongly with us as we took in this fabulous production and that has resonated deep within us for days after.
Book your tickets here: Open Air Theatre