The ice age, Noah’s ark and the apocalypse. Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin Of Our Teeth,” performed by Forbidden Planet Productions this weekend, visits all three events – in the course of two hours.
While she admits the show is confusing, director Katherine Nelson, a junior, said she found the play immediately compelling.
“It was different from anything I had ever read before,” she said. “I think we found a way to portray the story in a way that forces the audience to understand what happens.”
The play, which follows the Antrobus family, takes place in the 1940s, but depicts events happening in other time periods. The show opens at the beginning of time with the ice age, while act two recalls the “Great Flood” and Noah’s ark. Continuing with biblical allusion, the third act conveys the apocalypse.
“The play shows how things repeat and how we as humans are always rebuilding,” freshman actor Zach Gibson said. “We’re always restarting again, but we have all of our history to refer too in helping us fix our mistakes.”
Gibson was in his high school production of “The Skin of Our Teeth” last year and hopes that this production will be received with less confusion. He recalled his previous director asking the audience questions at the end of the play, to which an audience member declared she “didn’t get it.”
“Since I’m at college now, I expect a greater understanding from this group,” he said.
Though the show is confusing, both Gibson and Nelson insist there is a lot to be taken from the show. “The show doesn’t try to explain itself to the audience, you have to interpret your own meaning from it. You get to decide what each character represents,” Gibson said.
The second show in Forbidden Planet Production’s fall season, “The Skin of Our Teeth” follows last weekend’s annual performance of “Rocky Horror Picture Show.”
Nelson, a producer on the executive board of Forbidden Planet, submitted a proposal for her show last semester.
She read the play after a friend recommended it and said she was intrigued.
“The first time I read it I was like, this is kind of weird. But the second time I was like, this is interesting; I’d be interested in doing this with other people and seeing how they interpret it,” Nelson said.
The cast consists of primarily sophomores and freshman in their first production. In the process of studying the show, Nelson recalled a night where cast members spent an hour talking about symbolism represented in the third act.
“It was one of the most insightful and interesting talks one of my casts has had,” she said.
The show, which runs a little over two hours, is playing Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. in the Lisner Downstage. Tickets are $5, cash only.