At a time when virtual reality is a major influence on day-to-day life, Caravan Farm Theatre’s summer production is a welcome and wonderful relief.
Theatre-goers are actually called upon to use their imagination.
Enter into everyday life in Grover’s Corners, a fictional New Hampshire town in 1901, created by American playwright Thornton Wilder in his Pulitzer award-winning play, Our Town.
The day begins.
From a horse-drawn wagon, the milkman delivers bottles of milk to two women who are busy making breakfast for their families, their actions interspersed by increasingly louder attempts to rouse their children from their beds.
A doctor trudges home after delivering twins to a Polish woman and is met by his worried wife, who urges him to get some sleep before he opens his practice to the day’s patients.
A school bell rings and an excited gaggle of children runs along Main Street, with one determined and endearing little girl struggling to catch up and yelling, “Wait for me!”
It is a day much like any other in this small town, where everyone knows each other and nobody locks their doors.
Against a backdrop of stately trees, the minimalist set has few props – a couple of tables, a few chairs, two ladders and four small pieces of decorative fencing.
But anyone who has ever used a frying pan to make eggs or French toast, sliced bread, or reached up to retrieve salt and pepper from a cupboard, will be drawn into the scene without the need for props.
Artistic director Courtenay Dobbie has, once again, assembled a superlative cast of actors.
Narrator Christopher Hunt is well-suited to his role as the stage manager, moving the scenes along: charming, hilarious, cheeky and empathetic by turn.
Sound effects produced by rural “farm animals” are also hilarious, as is the editor’s lawn mower and the soda shoppe ice cream machine.
There is so much to laugh about in the first two acts that the poignancy of the third act is a bit of a challenge – at first.
In the last act, 12 years have passed and we meet several of the people who brought so much life to the first two acts.
But now, they are high on a hill in the town cemetery, having died in the interim.
Tears come quickly as we relate to the reality and finality of death and loss in our own lives.
All of us will one day die. That is inescapable. And, until we reach that threshold ourselves, what happens beyond remains a mystery.
“We all know something is eternal and that ain’t houses and it ain’t earth, and it ain’t even the stars…,” says the Stage Manager. “Everybody knows in their bones that something is eternal and that something has to do with human beings.”
Our Town reminds us that our lives pass by quickly and that we need to honour our relationships and take great joy in precious moments – even those as simple and as exquisite as the smell of a pine forest or a fiery sunset.
It seems to me that every Caravan production becomes my favourite. Our Town is no exception. Just be prepared to open your heart to life – and take some tissues.
Our Town runs nightly at 7:30 p.m., except Mondays, to Aug. 21. Tickets are available at www.ticketseller.ca or by calling 250-549-7469. Caravan Farm Theatre is at 4886 Salmon River Rd. in Armstrong-Spallumcheen.