THE NEW YORKER: Thornton Wilder's Optimistic Catastrophe: 'The Skin of Our Teeth'

Almost any evening, somewhere in America, the curtain is going up on a play by Thornton Wilder. Last year alone, there were four hundred productions. His play “The Skin of Our Teeth,” from 1942, made up about a quarter of those productions, mainly in regional or college venues. (The other half, give or take, belongs to “Our Town,” and the other quarter to “The Matchmaker.”) “The Skin of Our Teeth” is currently onstage at the Polansky Shakespeare Center, in Brooklyn, directed by Arin Arbus. It’s a lollapalooza. The play is about history and war and catastrophe and love, domestic and otherwise, in its glittering raiments. The cast includes dinosaurs, a fortune teller, Moses, Plato, and a mammoth. Just like life, the play interrupts itself, loses track, and makes ludicrous remarks. When the curtain rises on the protagonists’ suburban house in Excelsior, New Jersey, a feeling of deep weirdness settles over the audience.
— Cynthia Zarin, The New Yorker

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Photo: Henry Grossman