Sunday, 21 March 2010

The Skin of Our Teeth.

To the newly created Lost Theatre in Stockwell last night to see Thornton Wilder's The Skin of Our Teeth, which Matt has been busily directing over the last couple of weeks.

The Lost company has reclaimed an old lecture theatre from Thames Poly and renovated it into a purpose built home with raked auditorium, dressing rooms two rehearsal rooms, an office space and small foyer bar. It's good, solid stuff. A young company dedicated to play making and having a good time doing it.

The play, which I'd never heard of before, was also fascinating. Written in 1942, the year after Pearl Harbour and set in an amalgam of the ice age and twentieth century New Jersey, Wilder mixes allegory and absurdity to highlight the fallacy of America's isolationism and late entry in World War II.

The domestic bliss of the wheel inventing Antrobus family - complete with pet Mammoth and T-Rex - is disturbed by an encroaching glacier moving slowly but steadily from the north. Meanwhile Sabrina, the families maid - played originally by Tallulah Bankhead - chats nonchalantly to the audience about the stupidity of the play; challenging them to switch off, leave, think about other things. Matt had done a smashing job getting tight performances from a talented cast. It's fun, silly, but incredibly engaging and pre-Ionesco and Brecht, fairly revolutionary. It made me wonder whether Hanna and Barbera had seen the original show? The seeds of their genius 1960s animation The Flintstones are all pre-dated here.

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