Sunday, September 12, 2010

The Skin of Our Teeth by Thornton Wilder (1943)

Summary:  This play tracks the life of George Antrobus and his wife Maggie through three major periods: an ice age, the Roaring Twenties/a major flood and after a seven year war reminiscent of the Civil War.  The time periods are not clearly specified but definitely have allusions to both Biblical and historical times.   George and Maggie are the quintessential archetypes….and their relationship (which has apparently gone on for about 5,000 years) is a relatively “normal” set of husband/wife interactions.

Thoughts:  Well.  I just loved this play.  Though it was written in 1942, much of the humor has remained intact and I found myself thinking, “A comedy!  Thank God!” as it was my first since beginning the Project.  Because he deals with archetypes and has forty actors, Wilder allows himself the room to make sweeping pronouncements about humanity and the current state of affairs without falling into melodrama or forced sentimentality. 

By the end of the play, we’ve followed George and Maggie through some fairly major trials and tribulations, but they remain together dealing with their own family comedy and drama as the world around them has changed drastically.  At the end of the third act, Wilder borrows language from philosophers as he writes about the history of the world and it’s inhabitants in a voice reminiscent of some of Norman Corwin’s best work.

1 comment:

  1. I loved this one too; it's a very interesting and profound, yet light-hearted, comedy. See my thoughts on realism in The Skin of Our Teeth at