the wreck on the 5:25

Because so many of the plays we see nowadays are really suited to the small screen, it is easy to forget that a stage, no matter its size, can contain the cosmos. No one understood this better than Thornton Wilder, whose plays show us how to see the infinite in the utterly mundane.
— Howard Kissel, New York Daily News

2 men, 2 women

In this play, which represents “Sloth” in Wilder’s projected cycle on The Seven Deadly Sins, Herb Hawkins, a jovial New Jersey – New York City commuter with iron-bound habits, has called to say he is coming home late. This news sets his wife and daughter on edge, a condition heightened when a neighbor informs them that an unidentified man is hiding in the shadows of their front lawn, staring in at them. The police arrive to arrest the supposed prowler, only to find Herb, quietly observing his family through the windows of his own home. It seems that earlier that day, he received word of a surprise inheritance, left to him by a kind, lonely elderly woman. This sudden gift of a large sum of money prompts Herb to question the meaning and purpose of his own life. He returns to his place in the family with touches of humor, irony and despair.

The Wreck on the 5:25 was first produced at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York January 10, 1962, as one of three plays grouped as “Plays for Bleecker Street.”

A Note on Publication:
The Wreck on the 5:25 was first published in 1997 by TCG in The Collected Short Plays of Thornton Wilder, edited by Donald Gallup and Tappan Wilder. It is also included in Collected Plays & Writings on Theater edited by J. D. McClatchy, published by The Library of America in 2007.