Past Reviews

Broadway Reviews

The Skin of Our Teeth Theatre Review by Wendy Caster - April 25, 2022

The Skin of Our Teeth. Written by Thornton Wilder. With additional material by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins. Directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Assistant director: Teresa Cruz. Scenic design by Adam Rigg. Costume design by Montana Levi Blanco. Lighting design by Yi Zhao. Sound design by Palmer Hefferan. Projection design by Hannah Wasileski. Puppet design/direction: James Ortiz.; Hair and wig design by Cookie Jordan. Make-up design by Kirk Cambridge-Del Pesche.
Cast:Gabby Beans, Paige Gilbert, Priscilla Lopez, James Vincent Meredith, Julian Robertson, Roslyn Ruff. Eunice Bae, Terry Bell, Ritisha Chakraborty, William DeMeritt, Jeremy Gallardo, Avery Glymph, Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Noor Hamdi, Tyrone Mitchell Henderson, Maya Jackson, Anaseini Katoa, Cameron Keitt, Megan Lomax, Kathiamarice Lopez, Lindsay Rico, Julian Rozzell, Jr., Julyana Soelistyo, Phillip Taratula, Beau Thom, Alphonso Walker, Jr., Adrienne Wells, Sarin Monae West.
Theater: Vivian Beaumont Theatre at Lincoln Center, 150 West 65th Street (Between Broadway and Amsterdam)

Gabby Beans
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Thornton Wilder won the Pulitzer Prize three times: for the novel "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" and for the plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth. In distinctly different ways, all three focus on the meaning of life for individuals and for humanity in general. While "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" and Our Town are quiet and subtle creations, The Skin of Our Teeth throbs with energy and noise, bursting out of theatrical conventions, time, and reality.

The Skin of Our Teeth is the story of the Antrobus family: the paterfamilias George, always working; the mother, Maggie, trying to hold the family together; the son, Henry, formerly known as Cain, who likes to throw rocks; and the daughter, Gladys, expected by the family to be perfect. They live in New Jersey in the 1940s but also in biblical and prehistoric times, simultaneously. They deal with a wall of ice crushing their home, extreme flooding, and a war. They represent nothing less than the history of humanity, always going on against all odds.

In the tremendous production of The Skin of Our Teeth at Lincoln Center, directed with panache and gusto by Lileana Blain-Cruz, the Antrobus family is Black, and the script has been lightly edited accordingly (additional material by by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins). This casting works well, particularly in the hands of James Vincent Meredith as Mr. Antrobus, Roslyn Ruff as Mrs. Antrobus, Julian Robertson as Henry, and Paige Gilbert as Gladys. In fact, the entire cast delivers; especially noteworthy are Gabby Beans, who nails every aspect of the protean maid Sabina, and Priscilla Lopez as the Fortune Teller, whose monologue is the centerpiece of Act 2.

The Cast
Photo by Julieta Cervantes
Considering that The Skin of Our Teeth is a very wordy play, complete with "news reels," extensive narration, and long speeches, it is notable that in this production, the visual aspect rules. Adam Rigg's amazing sets make you want to go on-stage and move in (Act 1) or frolic on them (Act 2). The costumes by Montana Levi Blanco, lighting by Yi Zhao, sound by Palmer Hefferan, and projections by Hannah Wasileski complete the vivid atmosphere. James Ortiz's puppets almost steal the show.

What is lost in this spectacle is true emotional connection with the characters. The show is so wonderful that this fault almost doesn't matter. However, the ability to feel for and with the Antrobus family would push this extraordinary production into superlative territory.

One last note: a lot of people have been walking out of The Skin of Our Teeth at the pause or at intermission. I get it–the play is certainly not everyone's cup of tea–but it's unfortunate, since the show has so much to offer. I hope you stay. However, if you want to leave, do at least see Act 2 for the sheer visual delight.