“The Skin of our Teeth” play review

Sarah Markiewicz, Asst. Opinion Editor

The second night of the run of Diamond Bar High School’s fall play “The Skin of Our Teeth,” drew a small crowd for a Saturday night. While this seemed like a bad omen, it actually created a more intimate and interactive feeling that matched this naturally interactive production.

After its production of “Into the Woods” for last year’s spring musical, director Beatrice Casagran and the rest of the drama crew went for another allegorical play with an adult tone, which can be found in Thornton Wilder’s “The Skin of Our Teeth.”

Its storyline, which is nowhere near chronological, follows the prominent but internally troubled Antrobus family, led by inventor George, his well-to-do wife Maggie, and their two “perfect” children Gladys and Henry, as well as their pessimistic and melodramatic maid Sabina.

In only three acts, the family goes through an Ice Age, an apocalyptic flood, and warfare, all within the comfortable scope of the Earth’s entire history. Yes, there’s no true rhythm to this story, as it jumps from past to present to future, and even breaks through the fourth wall many times. But the matter is, none of this really matters, as the wild mouse ride makes for an unpredictable setting that must have been fun to work with. And I haven’t even mentioned the dinosaurs.

Many of the plotlines and jokes fly straight over the heads of younger children as much as stones fly from Henry’s (aka Cain’s) slingshot, since the play is chock-full of Biblical and historical allusions. While this makes the confusion even harder to understand, the blocking and performances of the cast, especially from Chloe Reyes as the cheeky maid Sabina, keeps the drama rolling. As the leading couple, Jonah Martinez and Julianna King are not quite as animated, but bring good balance by holding the solemnity of the play’s message.

This play has its serious moments, but for the most part is composed of witty humor, especially with Nicole Geron and Jana Yamak in the roles of the “pet” mammoth and dinosaur. It is also an allegory about the continuity of life and the human struggle to live in midst of crisis.

To keep things refreshing, Drama has also applied playwright Wilder’s revolutionary techniques by bringing a fresh level of audience involvement in this production. Although Amelia Anijelo, who dazzled audiences as the Witch in “Into the Woods,” plays a smaller role here as the Fortune Teller in Act 2, she and other characters keep the audience on their toes by addressing them, and even sitting among them, at various times. It’s all part of the fun of being reminded by the “actors” that the audience is watching a play.

From the onset of the show I was very impressed with the simplicity but effectiveness of the costumes, especially since they had to reflect the characters in the 1940s the 1990s and an apocalyptic future. The set was also effective in bringing out the changes between time periods, but a bit more could have been done to emphasize the striking climate changes and bizarre atmosphere of the various settings.

The play’s three acts are divided by two intermissions, with the first short one offering a glimpse at how the backstage crew does the set changes, which I thought was an interesting touch. While the storyline may be hard to follow closely, “The Skin of Our Teeth” makes off with a quirky spirit and a role for everyone.