Put on by Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, ‘Our Town’ is showing from now until Saturday in a beautiful old church on Portland Square. Remarkably, there was no seating at the venue: the audience were invited to stand on set and occasionally move around the stage. This audience participation provided many comical moments. Especially when the bench we perched on was promptly moved from beneath us to be used as a prop. Meanwhile, the performance required us to sit on the floor and cluck like chickens, and to sit on pews during a wedding scene, being handed orders of service and confetti to throw.
The audience was led through the play by the Stage Manager (Ross O’Donnellan). It was him (and his incredible North Hampshire accent) that kept the audience informed about the epoch. This was extremely well done, and helped the audience to understand what was going on in the minimalistic and prop-less setting.
The play was split into three chapters. The first introduced the town and various actors, including Professor Willard (Edward Stone), who told the audience about the history of the town. It was also here, that we were introduced to the two main families: The Gibbs and the Webbs. This set the scene for the love story that followed in the remaining scenes.
The second act focused on the love and marriage between Emily Webb (Rosy McEwen) and George Gibbs (Rudolphe Mdlongwa.) Their relationship was very naïve and pure, and the giddy youth of the characters was conveyed through the backdrop of the local ice cream/soda shop. Meanwhile, the third was set nine years after the wedding. It contained a deeply philosophical discourse reflecting life and death, and the way in which humans live in a blissful ignorance. This was terrifically communicated by the acting of Rosy McEwen (Emily Webb). Her performance brought tears to many eyes amongst the audience. The heartbreak she endured upon reliving her twelfth birthday was tangible and truly touching.
The interactive aspects of the play added an exciting element and set it up against other productions as extraordinarily different. The show is on until the end of the week, and we highly recommend anyone who has the time to go and see it. Special mention must go to Ross O’Donnellan (Stage manager) and Rosy McEwen (Emily Webb) for their outstanding performances.
Georgie Deverell & Georgia Todd
To find our more about the 'Our Town' you can check out the Bristol Olc Vic Theatre School Website.
The production is showing at the beautiful old church in Portland Square until Saturday the 19th of February.