“Do any human beings ever realise life while they live it?”
Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning “Our Town” is an iconic and timeless classic that still resonates with audiences across the globe.
The story is deceptively simple: In a small American town, two people fall in love, marry and live out their lives among the many villagers there. Its powerful message to audiences is that too often we squander time looking back to a past we cannot change without truly embracing the present. The play celebrates the beauty of life, not just for the big events but for the smallest details and interactions that we never fully treasure while we live them.
With a narrator, no props and a minimal set, Wilder looks through a telescope at the characters living in the town, allowing the audience to appreciate the acting and the ironic truth of our human existence.
Edna and Mel are a struggling, middle-aged couple living in New York City. The apartment they live in has plumbing problems, walls that are too thin, garbage that piles up, high crime and they are in the middle of a heatwave. Mel loses his job and finds it hard to come to terms with being older and unemployed. When they are robbed, their problems escalate and Mel suffers a nervous breakdown. Edna tries to support her husband and gets a job to pay the rent. However, it isn’t enough and Mel’s siblings are called in before things become worse.
The Prisoner of Second Avenue by Neil Simon is an hilarious play which premiered on Broadway on November 11, 1971. Clive Barnes, in The New York Times, wrote that "it is, I think, the most honestly amusing comedy that Mr. Simon has so far given us."
The play ran in the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre, produced by Old Vic Company/Old Vic Productions and Sonia Friedman Productions, opening on June 30, 2010. The film version of The Prisoner of Second Avenue starred Jack Lemmon, Anne Bancroft and Gene Saks.
Described as “Simon’s comedy turns darker”, the play is set in the early 1970s in an apartment in New York City. Mel and Edna, a middle aged couple, struggle with city life, high crime, strikes, unemployment, financial problems, faulty plumbing and noisy neighbours.
Based on an old Chinese story, Brecht’s play, written in 1944, was originally set in the Soviet Union but in this modern version it will be set in a timeless Eastern European State, ravaged by civil war. The prologue is an argument about landownership and post-war government intervention. The villagers of the affected territory however distract the government official, sent to take their land away, by putting on a play within the play, which becomes the “main event”. Also set in a civil war torn land it is a parable about a peasant girl who rescues a baby and becomes a better mother than its wealthy natural parents.
The phrase “modern classic” is sometimes overused, but in this case it is surely most appropriate. Peter Shaffer’s haunting, disturbing, visually unforgettable play “Equus” is known as one of the finest plays of the 20th Century.
Based on a story he was told in the car by a friend of an incident in some stables near to where they were driving, Shaffer attempts to enter the mind of a 17 year old boy who has been sent to a psychiatrist after being convicted of blinding 6 horses with a hoof pick. The psychiatrist has to overcome the boy’s anger and resentment, and whilst trying to get to the truth begins to question the validity of his reasons and his own life.