Book Review | Our Town

It’s been a few years since I’v read a play that wasn’t written by William Shakespeare. So I was excited when this month’s prompt for the Reading New England Challenge was to read poetry or drama, and decided to use the opportunity to read a play. I chose Thornton Wilder’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Our Town. (This is going to be a short review, because I don’t know how to review this play without giving away the entire plot.)

205476Written in 1938, Our Town is an allegorical representation of the span of human life. It takes place in a small New Hampshire town called Grover’s Corners, and is about the every day life of its residents. It is Wilder’s most renowned and most frequently produced play.

Our Town is widely-acclaimed and well-loved. It’s frequently called “THE Great American Play.” As someone who has studied theatre (I also did technical theatre – behind the scenes stuff – including stage managing in high school), I was really looking forward to getting back into reading plays. I’ve read some great ones in the past (from Antigone to King Lear to A Streetcar Named Desire and even more obscure plays like The Effects of Gamma Rays on Man-on-the-Moon Marigolds), but they’re not something I usually pick up on my own. Still, I’m not new to drama. That said, I feel like I just didn’t get this one. I understood (I think) what Wilder was trying to say. I understood his point, it just didn’t make me feel… anything. If I’m honest, it just fell flat for me. Maybe because I wanted to like it. Maybe because it just wasn’t my kind of play.

Rating: ★★✩✩✩

I didn’t hate it, and almost gave it a three-star rating. But, at the end of the day, I didn’t gain anything (be it enjoyment, knowledge, or inspiration) from reading Our Town. Which is, based on my research, not a very popular sentiment, so don’t let that stop you from reading it for yourself.

If you’ve read Our Town, I would love to hear your thoughts? Am I the only one who didn’t love it?

3 thoughts on “Book Review | Our Town

  1. Nobody is going to love every work of literature, even supposedly great ones! It might strike you differently if you read it again in some years though. That often happens to me with classics that I didn’t like the first time.
    If you want to try another play by Wilder, I recommend The Matchmaker. It was quite different, less philosophical and more fun.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for the recommendation! I actually didn’t hate Wilder’s writing, I just really felt very disconnected from the characters in Our Town (I’m going to try and see if I can find a video of a performance online, so I can see if that makes a difference, though). So I did want to try another one of his plays, because, unless I really hate something, I usually try to give the author another shot. I actually think I’ve seen The Matchmaker performed somewhere (I did theatre in high school, so I saw a lot of plays), and, from what I remember, I liked it. I’ll definitely look into reading it! Thanks!

      Liked by 1 person

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