With a record number of productions in regional theaters across the country this season, Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” is reestablishing the claim that it is the most-produced play of the American theater canon. Written over seventy years ago, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone brought up in the U.S. public school system who hasn’t at least read or studied the play, perhaps even been in a production themselves at one point. With such a long-standing culture familiarity, it’s difficult to imagine breathing new life into this old standard without pulling out some serious smoke and mirrors. That’s precisely why David Cromer’s staging for The Hypocrites is such a revelation: this intimate production, from a company known for turning classics on their head, stays true to Wilder’s stripped-down, bare-bones stage (with the exception of a brief and brilliant third-act sequence)—relying on the talents of the fairly rock-solid ensemble to bring Grover’s Corners to life (with Cromer himself at the helm onstage as well, in the role of the narrating stage manager). What’s missing, thankfully, is any trace of the sometimes saccharine sentimentality that can make this play seem to last nearly as long as the lifespan it covers. On the contrary, the Hypocrites staging is urgent, honest and unflinching, played with an immediacy that cuts right to the heart of the matter—the play, like the lives it portrays, is over before you know it—leaving both characters and audiences wanting just a little bit more. Jennifer Grace and Rob Fagin are particular standouts as Emily Webb and George Gibb. (Valerie Jean Johnson)
Att the Chopin Theatre, 1543 West Division, (773)278-1500. This production is now closed.