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The Skin of Our Teeth

Members say: Ambitious, Relevant, Great staging, Thought-provoking, Absorbing
78
Critics
75
21 reviews
Members
78
77 reviews
 

Theatre for a New Audience stages Thorton Wilder's Pulitzer Prize-winning, tragicomic paean to human perseverance and indestructibility.

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Written during the darkest period of World War II, this timeless play has not had a major New York production since 1998. Wilder’s quintessential Antrobus family copes with chaos, and the frustrations of parents and children set against the crises threatening humanity’s survival.

 



Reviews (98)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
75
Avg Score

75
The New York Times

“Ms. Arbus doesn’t entirely restore ‘Skin’ to newborn sprightliness. But she makes you appreciate why its first audiences cherished it…It’s as a big-picture production that this ‘Skin’ captures, tickles and distresses the imagination. Ms. Arbus has enlisted a crackerjack production team and a diverse cast of nearly three dozen to fill Wilder’s eternity-sized canvas. The production deploys them with wit and efficiency, while retaining an endearing air of ramshackle spontaneity.” Full Review

70
Theatermania

“One of the lasting enigmas of this classic of the American stage that you'll either love or hate…Director Arin Arbus leads a production that is as visually impressive as it is bizarre…Not everyone will appreciate Wilder's idiosyncratic combination of philosophy and frivolity, which sometimes sags under the weight of its own hefty allegory. Still, it is impossible not to appreciate the work Arbus and her cast have put into this faithful revival, a rare opportunity to see this important work.” Full Review

60
Time Out New York

"Having influenced generations of avant-garde theater, Wilder’s nonlinear storytelling and metatheatrical trickery have lost much of their surprise, and his symbolism often feels heavy. Arin Arbus’s staging for Theatre for a New Audience prods this unwieldy epic forward...What’s missing is a more intimate sense of the central family as human beings and not merely archetypes. It’s a treat to see this seminal work on its feet...But the play’s strange comfort has gone a little cold." Full Review

60
Lighting & Sound America

"Has 'Skin of Our Teeth'...passed its sell-by date?...It's a clever, multilayered premise, dizzily balancing vaudeville comedy with unsentimental conclusions about humanity's destructive impulses, while insisting that...hope still lingers. It must have been something in its day...Arbus seems to wrestle with this problem, adding all sorts of contemporary touches...The result is definitely patchy, especially since Arbus has no real flair for the play's oddball lightly cartooned sense of humor." Full Review

85
Broadway Blog

"Wilder's drama couldn't ask for a better production. It may not make you like or understand Wilder's determinedly anachronistic work any better, but Arbus and her ample crew...definitely know theatrical CPR...Wilder's play, sliding from philosophical profundity one moment to comic archness the next, gets a high-energy performance, with rousingly intelligent performances by each leading actor and most supporting ones." Full Review

75
The Huffington Post

"I was kind of besotted by the vision of director Arin Arbus, even as I thought perhaps here and there a transition or change in style might have been done better...Anyone who hasn’t seen this show yet–and it’s rarely done–should not waste a moment to see it done with verve and determination...Like any great play, 'Skin' now seems very timely—with its whiff of dishonest politicians and the world spinning out of control, you’d swear it was written last week...Inevitably flawed but fascinating." Full Review

90
CurtainUp

“If you haven't already done so, get a ticket to see the Theater for a New Audience production...What makes it well worth a trip to Brooklyn?...Pretty much everything!…Director Arbus is as inventive as Wilder's central characters…’While this 'Skin of Our Teeth’ resonates uncomfortably with our own world, it is a more powerful than ever theatrical experience that will have you laughing and enjoying yourself, even as it leaves you contemplating how to remain optimistic." Full Review

85
TheaterScene.net

"Thornton Wilder's 'The Skin of Our Teeth,' with its benign belief in the resilience of the human condition, is unlike any other American play you are likely to see. Both heavily influenced by earlier European experiments in theater, it is also influential in itself. While Arin Arbus' production for Theatre for a New Audience at times seems as though it needs tightening up, it is a play that must be experienced in the theater, which is why it has never been turned into a Hollywood movie." Full Review

75
Broadway & Me

“As wacky as Wilder intended it to be…Director Arin Arbus commits totally to the play's deliberate absurdities and adds a few innovations of her own…In short, there's a lot going on. Some of it overwhelms the story line. But, like its characters, Wilder's play is resilient and its belief that humanity has survived all kinds of challenges in the past and so will be able to get through bad times again manages to shine through." Full Review

65
Theater Pizzazz

"Relevance is the key here. Thornton’s work, remarkable for its time, only holds up in parts. The first act is easier to connect to: stories of hard times, helping refugees and a longing for a better life. But it’s harder for an audience to relate to the remainder of the play...Arbus and the cast do a remarkable job...'The Skin of Our Teeth' is fodder for deep reflection, and though harder to relate to in a modern era, still lays before us an often painful universal truth." Full Review

85
Epoch Times

“A striking revival…Both the playwright and director Arin Arbus make clear that if the audience starts to feel too comfortable with the story, then they are not doing their jobs. Arbus deserves credit for taking the script, which, in the wrong hands could easily become a lengthy farce or an endless diatribe, and turning it into a compelling story of one family’s survival and, through them, the survival of humanity...A fascinating look at what human beings are capable of." Full Review

85
Village Voice

“Wilder's text demands a directorial one-two punch — a joyous spirit that can sustain the superficial brightness while keeping a firm grasp on its dark underpinnings. Arin Arbus's production gets more of both than I've experienced in any previous staging…Arbus sometimes wavers...But these minor flaws shrink in the larger context: A big, important American play has been reawakened for a historical moment that desperately needs it.” Full Review

35
Off Off Online

"To her credit, director Arin Arbus saw that the current era of turmoil made 'The Skin of Our Teeth' ripe for revisiting. Unfortunately, her production adds much more wood to the trees...The production starts unpromisingly...From this tepid beginning things just trundle along...Wilder’s playwriting tricks are given distracting 'help' under Arbus’s direction...Rather than guffaws, the result adds layers of puzzlement that undermine the genuine humor." Full Review

70
scribicide

"In fact, 'The Skin of Our Teeth' may be more a play for times of calm, times when we are more likely to forget our origin stories...coupled with a long view of history, one that is cyclical rather than progressive, it does seem to indicate that we have been through all of this before and made it out the other side." Full Review

85
Stage Buddy

"Imaginatively directed by Arin Arbus, Thornton Wilder’s 'The Skin of Our Teeth' is a wildly original, ambitious tragicomedy...The theatrical experience is unlike any you’ll probably have. With all its farcical and absurdist dramatic elements, Biblical allusions, topsy-turvy timeline, and musical interludes, it is a singular production with a universal human story at its core. After all, Wilder wrote it meaning to unite humanity, a sentiment all too crucial in this modern age." Full Review

90
BroadwaySelect

"'The Skin Of Our Teeth' now seems as apt as ever...Kecia Lewis is truly extraordinary as Mrs. Antrobus...Just as Wilder predicted that the human race would always get by albeit by the skin of their teeth, so too has Wilder’s play managed to survive and be constantly revived despite those who can’t begin to get into it. Considering the bang-up job Arbus has done with this masterpiece, just go with the flow, the allegory and the achievement." Full Review

75
Theatre Reviews Limited

"Wildly inventive, if occasional unwieldy...Directed by the brave and creative Arin Arbus, 'Skin of Our Teeth' is clearly not for the faint of heart or the accidental tourist...It is difficult not to appreciate the effort and the obvious talent. Theatre for a New Audience has become a perfect neighbor for BAM, pushing the envelope even more so in its choices. A worthy and admirable addition...Will it make you laugh in these times? Not so much. And maybe that’s the point." Full Review

75
NY Theatre Guide

"Arin Arbus’s current Theatre for a New Audience production, the first of the 1942 tragicomedy in New York City since 1998, reveals its – and Wilder’s – relevancy...Theatre for a New Audience proves at once that this is not an impossible play to stage. That is, if audiences allow themselves to hear Thornton Wilder’s definition of family values: Survival is assured when everyone works together and keeps their books safe." Full Review

65
Reclining Standards

"The resulting production is flawed—for me, key elements of Wilder’s tone are sometimes missing—but I’m very grateful to have seen it...'Skin of Our Teeth' needs to begin with at least a superficial connection to a real, recognizable world. In Arbus’s production, there isn’t much of that...Still, there are lovely, memorable things throughout Arbus’s production...I wish that 'Skin of Our Teeth'—an allegory and a fable for sure—didn’t look quite so allegorical as it does here." Full Review

95
New York Theatre Review

"A brilliant and timely production...A miracle of theater, and one that probably should be seen by anyone who worries about where all of us are going...This production is, simply put, is a revelation. As directed by Arbus, it combines just about every theatrical element that exists under the sun...The giant cast crowd the stage and the audience, and almost every single one of them, from lead performers to members of the chorus, have moments to shine...I can’t praise this show enough." Full Review

90
Exeunt Magazine

“A sprawling, ambitious piece of work…It is also a piece of meta-theatrical genius…This blending of period, location, and persona captures a wide range of American history in turn comical and poignant…Arin Arbus’ production is notable for its inventiveness and its nimble negotiation of the play’s spiraling tone…Even three quarters of a century later, it feels daring and brave. 'The Skin of Our Teeth' is an intelligent play and an intelligent, and immensely enjoyable, production." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

85
Absorbing, Intense, Thought-provoking, Slow

See it if you like plays that still resonate many decades after they were written. The acting is good too!

Don't see it if You are not into long, kind of surrealist plays.

74
Great acting, Thought-provoking, Slow, Dated, Great staging

See it if you know and like this odd, disjointed, allegorical play; or just to see Mary Wiseman - as funny and beautiful as the young Lucille Ball

Don't see it if you want your plays linear, fast-paced and fully understandable; this one is not! Yet somehow entertaining and, in the end, hopeful

77
Ambitious, Quirky, Resonant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if an unusual depiction of human survival over the millennia from Ice Age (set in a suburban NJ house) thru Great Flood in Atlantic City & War

Don't see it if a nonlinear 1942 (avant-garde then) play where the actors get out of character to address the audience; surreal & often loud

Also I especially enjoyed the first act with refugees (including dinosaur, ... Read more Read less

70
Funny, Worthy, Transgressive, Nutty

See it if You are up to the challenge of a difficult old notable play. From an earlier challenged time, it speaks to us. You will enjoy Mary Wiseman.

Don't see it if You want easy, this isn't that. Art does not exist independent of it's audience. You bring your history & must engage & do your part.

70
Funny, Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if you want to see something different and adjusted to the contemporary

Don't see it if you have a hard time following events and confuse easily

40
Ambitious, Intelligent, Resonant, Disappointing, Excruciating

See it if highfalutin explorations of archetypes, the exonerating and ineffable power of the human imagination, and cyclical Ages of Man is your cuppa

Don't see it if histrionic overacting, ponderous first halfs, fourth-wall breaking, or jumbled surrealist action (but not thoughts) are not your cuppa.

Also In one sense, I'm surprised this won a Pulitzer. In another, it's the ... Read more Read less

62
Dizzying, Quirky, Indulgent, Confusing, Disappointing

See it if you are curious about staging a play unwieldy at best and a missed opportunity to be truly relevant. The concept is awesome; execution not

Don't see it if Loud is not youe idea of relevant and reason is your way of communicating. the characters never truly evolve and it is more performance

80
Ambitious, Epic, Profound, Quirky, Wacky

See it if The human condition, over the entire course of history... sublime, suffering, and ridiculous. Unique material, creatively staged.

Don't see it if The person sitting behind me said to her friend at intermission, "What the hell was that?"

75
Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Great staging

See it if You're looking for a fresh take on an older play, revived for the right period. You want to be engaged.

Don't see it if You don't like long plays. You're not willing to go on a journey with them.

80
Absorbing, Clever, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Wilder's writing, particularly Our Town.

Don't see it if you don't like absurdist work.

77
Ambitious, Uneven, Fascinating, Thoughtful, Unconventional

See it if You're open to deeply unusual works that blend absurdism with philosophy, and tragedy with comedy. It's surprising how fresh the play feels

Don't see it if You're not willing to run with anything that could be thrown at you--a mammoth playing drums, a timeline that spans eons, 4000 year old kids

Also The play continuously felt fresh and new and daring despite being 75 y... Read more Read less

75
Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you want to see a play that was way ahead of its time back in 1942. It predicted the future...TODAY.

Don't see it if absurdity combined with intellect is not your thing. It makes you think.

75
Ambitious, Great acting, Indulgent, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if you like busy meta theater that is fairly well executed.

Don't see it if you don't like being bombarded with lots of ideas at once without much subtlety.

73
Ambitious, Clever, Dizzying, Edgy, Quirky

See it if You like a non traditional story that is clever and quirky and requires a bit of thought on your part. And if you enjoy Thornton Wilder work

Don't see it if You don't like non-linear/circular stories, the breaking of the fourth wall, and are undeniably odd and at times confusing.

96
Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if you like plays with lots of social commentary; you are ok with the breaking of the 4th wall; you like non-traditional storytelling

Don't see it if you need a play to follow a straightforward plot; you aren't interested in reflecting on the nature of humanity & family in a surreal way

Also I thought this was brilliant. The cast was uniformly terrific, with Ma... Read more Read less

96
Great acting, Masterful, Must see, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you appreciate a terrific production of one of the most difficult and important plays in American theater. So relevant to today's times.

Don't see it if you don't like experimental theater or long plays.

85
Ambitious, Clever, Dizzying, Epic, Great staging

See it if you enjoy Thornton Wilder, social commentary and interesting staging.

Don't see it if you want an easily classifiable show, dislike direct address or want a short play.

87
Ambitious, Clever, Enchanting, Epic, Relevant

See it if You want to be reacquainted with anAmerican classic or love Thorton Wilder. It resonates today and is a clever and timely as when written.

Don't see it if You hate absurdist drama, want believable, simple narrative, don't appreciate new takes on the classics

70
Ambitious, Dizzying, Indulgent, Disappointing, Dated

See it if you have never seen the show and want to fill a gap in your knowledge of important 20th century theatrical works.

Don't see it if you expect a clear narrative and have a low threshold for chaotic presentation.

88
Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You want to see a refreshing take of a classic play at the perfect moment for a revival. Beautiful acted, directed and designed.

Don't see it if you want to see a piece of escapist theater. While entertaining, it really makes you think about the current state of affairs.

Also While everything on stage was impeccably designed, the three quarter s... Read more Read less

83
Funny, Dizzying, Great writing, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You're a fan of Arin Arbus and the works of Thornton Wilder. They're a great combination.

Don't see it if You prefer realistic comedies or dramas. This is more adventurous in its storytelling.

70
Ambitious, Disappointing, Excruciating, Slow, Dated

See it if you want to be able to say that you saw a production of this play--it's not produced all that often and it is considered a classic.

Don't see it if you want an emotionally involving show. I found it boring despite the sometimes frenetic pace, the fancy set and the hard-working actors.

88
Ambitious, Edgy, Epic, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if you want to see a relevant, well-directed and performed classic of the American theater that is more timely than ever.

Don't see it if you don't like magical realism-type plays.

98
Delightful, Great acting, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You enjoy a classic American play that broke all the rules wonderfully acted, directed and designed.

Don't see it if You only enjoy linear, non-experimental work.

Also Unlike a certain other classic play currently revived on Broadway, thi... Read more Read less

77
Ambitious, Great acting, Relevant, Confusing, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy over the top, loud performances with heavy-handed (although still relevant/interesting) messages.

Don't see it if you enjoy: simple, understated, minimal, intimate