A look into Wilder’s play “The Skin of Our Teeth”

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“The Skin of Our Teeth” cast rehearsing before their opening show on Oct. 24. Photo by Marquel Plavan.

When asked about her first impression of Thornton Wilder’s play, “The Skin of our Teeth,” junior Mary Martin replied, “It’s so trippy.”

Directed by Stefan Novinski, “The Skin of Our Teeth” encompasses a wide range of biblical history and apocalyptic literature demonstrated through the family dynamic of Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, their children, Gladys and Henry, and their maid, Sabina.

Senior Sandra Twetten brings a lively, childlike energy to the seductive role of Sabina.

Senior Jackson Berkhouse, who plays Mr. Antrobus, is robust and intense in his role; Berkhouse highlights the struggle between passion and responsibility through his portrayal of a man who craves excitement, while also maintaining his duty as a politician, husband and father.

Junior Dolores Mihaliak plays the uptight, penny-pinching wife who has been exhaustingly married to him for 5,000 years. Mihaliak’s stern tone of voice paired with her spiking, but delightful demeanor, reveals an insight to the pressures of womanhood in upholding a family.

The set design is simple, but powerful. A metal frame towards the back of the stage functions as a wall and doorway for most of the play, but the actors move it around during the scenes to manipulate their surroundings. The simple set places more focus on the characters who dominate the space, and they move props or parts of the set themselves to showcase the drive to master their own reality. The effects and lights, in turn, aid the apocalyptic atmosphere.

The most shocking part of the play, in my opinion, is the usage of the “fourth wall.” Not only do the actors break it repeatedly, they also step out of character while simultaneously being in character. The fourth wall doesn’t exist as an imaginary barrier between the actors and the audience; it exists as an inviting dimension to bring the audience into the reality of the characters and their world.

One of the reasons the actors break character is because the play demonstrates such a raw, intense interpretation of reality that the actors, as well as the audience, demand a dramatic slice in the tension. If there weren’t so many fourth wall breaks, an audience member may, ironically, be unable to fully accept the world which the actors present.

“The Skin of Our Teeth is the best play I have seen in quite some time. It is captivating, exhilarating, funny and insightful; it is truly a must-see. Ticket reservations can be found at udallas.edu/drama. The show opened on Wednesday, Oct. 24 and will run until Nov. 3.

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