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Marquette Theatre Takes on Thornton Wilder's Comedy of Humanity's Survival

Feb. 21, 2017
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In Review: Marquette Theater

Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of Our Teeth is a surrealist distillation of universal drama. The clever mix of Biblical themes and natural history fuses in an impressionistic funhouse story about the miraculous unlikelihood of human survival. The comedic drama is brought to the stage courtesy of Marquette University.

The set is dominated by three large screens on which digital animated backgrounds establish settings. A few bits of scenery are present onstage in the course of a story that follows a single family from impending ice age to impending flood and beyond. Marissa Ellison casually dazzles as Sabina, a domestic servant who serves as something like a host of the show. The sweeping comedic drama begins and ends with her addressing the audience. She’s got a delightful sense of comic exaggeration that serves the role well. Towards the end she is exquisite in the more sophisticated ends of even very dark and delicate drama. Sabina works for the Antrobus family. Michael Nicholas wields a rugged gravity about him as the Antrobus patriarch—a clever man who has invented many things with noble intentions. Nicholas does an admirable job of serving as a flawed, heartbreakingly human central figure in the midst of the maelstrom.

A.J. Magoon and Lindsay Webster play the Antrobus kids. Of all the characters in the drama they have perhaps the greatest arcs. Magoon starts as a troubled child. By the end of the play he is a deposed arch-villain. Webster starts off as a precocious schoolgirl who becomes staggeringly bright before settling into post-apocalyptic maternal figure. It’s quite a journey for all involved.

Through Feb. 26 at Helfaer Theatre, 525 N. 13th St. For tickets, call 414-288-7504 or visit showclix.com.

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