At first I thought, "This is what Our Town would be like if it were conceived yesterday in an affordable Brooklyn apartment."
Then I thought, "This has the wordy wit and cosmic wonder of Eric Overmeyer's On the Verge but without the pop culture references."
Then I stopped looking for comparisons and just let this unique show work on me. I laughed, I cried, I was healed.
On one level, this is about a handful of people in a small town. John (Matthew Roland), a long-time resident, is "medically lonely," while Mary (Georgeanna Smith), a newcomer, hopes her husband will manage to be in town for the birth of their son. John and Mary meet by chance at the public library. Through their sometimes funny, sometimes painful interactions and those of their neighbors, we realize the precious ordinariness of being in the middle of the birth-to-death spectrum.
On another level, this is about the "before, after, during" of all of life on Middletown's patch of Earth, from the rocks and trees and spirits of the long-gone Native people to a contemporary astronaut observing his hometown from his rocket ship, and more. Any of us could be a resident of Middletown, too. And on the meta level, the playwright pokes affectionate fun at wordsmiths and theatre-goers.
Director Michael Burke and the rest of the NoExit team took Will Eno's exquisitely layered script and illuminated it by adding their own beautiful layers of staging. Every detail is perfectly chosen, from the cop's subtly sparkling tie to the walls of distressed wood window frames, and from the yearning background music to the dreamy lighting illustrating the clouds that "Middletown is known for."
Each of the eight actors is solidly in control of the rich language and completely believable in his or her role(s), even under the microscope of the very intimate temporary theater space in the Indy Indie Artist Colony lobby.
Opening night was sold out and with only six performances total, be sure to buy tickets in advance.