It’s no surprise that Our Town is the most produced play in the country, considering its universal theme of the ephemeral nature of human life. Set in the fictional early 20th-Century northeastern town of Grover’s Corners, it opens with the daily grind of small-town life, with young couple George Gibbs and Emily Webb emerging as the romantic centerpiece to whose relationship the audience is privy. The stages of their lives provide the structure for Our Town, culminating with a return from the dead to reflect on missed opportunities to appreciate the small moments in life and love.
What may come as a surprise is that in 1947 the Soviet Union banned Our Town (along with another Wilder play) for making family life seem too appealing. Those Soviets would have surely disliked the Long Beach Playhouse’s current production of Our Town, which is effectively directed by Sharyn Case and performed charmingly (and chillingly) by a well-rounded ensemble of actors, especially the pair who portray George and Emily: Sam Carter and Erica Farnsworth.
Carter and Farnsworth give performances that transcend just “good chemistry.” Each brings a profound understanding of the material and taps into the essence of his and her character. In what could have easily been a sentimental (even melodramatic) stage relationship, these two actors are able to elicit innocent sweetness, intelligence and marital fear that come across as real and relatable, and those are essential attributes when you’re telling the story of Our Town.
Our Town continues at the Long Beach Playhouse, 5021 E. Anaheim St., through March 6. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 8pm, with Sunday matinees at 2pm. Tickets are $22 general admission, $20 for seniors and $12 for students with valid ID. Call (562) 494-1014 or visit lbplayhouse.com.