The Skin of Our Teeth

LydiaBy Scott MacClelland

WHAT SPOT-ON VISION! Thornton Wilder’s The Skin of our Teeth, written in 1942, is the most complete and detailed spoof of Donald Trump’s White House that has so-far appeared in the media, print, electronic, social and Fox & Friends, since Trump became president.

Yet Wilder, who died in 1975, is currently on stage in Santa Cruz—Our Town (see our review HERE)—and in a readers’ theater production of Skin this weekend in Salinas and Monterey. In The Listening Place’s Skin, produced by Linda Hancock and directed by Michael Bond, and presented at Monterey’s Museum of Art last Sunday, seven well-known local actors gave a full house audience lots of laughs at Wilder’s fantastic imagery and accelerated verbal repartee.

Michael Lojkovic was George Antrobus—Trump?—in exactly every foible, peccadillo, lie and flirtation. Like Trump, he was busy inventing the alphabet, the wheel, beer, gunpowder and the number 100. “Any booby can fool with it now, but I thought of it first!” And, like Trump, he gets elected President, at least of the Fraternal Order of Mammals. A hilarious highlight of the first act (Act II in the original) was his seduction by Lydia Lyons (pictured above) as the winner of an Atlantic City beauty contest, now constricted by a red boa.

Otherwise, Lyons is Sabina, the Antrobus family maid, roundly denounced for having let the fire go out during a subzero cold snap in the middle of August. Yes, a glacier is advancing on New Jersey; it’s really the start of an Ice Age. Mammoths and dinosaurs are roaming the Antrobus front lawn. George and Mrs (Maggie) Antrobus have been married for 5,000 years. Mrs Antrobus—Susan Keenan—is pleased to regret all of them, until she corrects herself to “no regrets.” Their two children are Gladys (Linda Dale) and Henry (Richard Boynton) whose original given name was Cain. (There were three children but only two at any one time.)

Carl Twisselman is overwhelmingly cast as Mr Fitzpatrick, Telegram Boy, Professor, Broadcaster and animals who are destined for extinction. Andrea McDonald predicts the future as the Fortune Teller.

Antrobus is derived from the Greek for “human.” George and Maggie are Adam and Eve. The whole farce is peopled with archetypes and stereotypes from the old bible and classical legends and myths. Sabina complains “I can’t invent any words for this play, and I’m glad I can’t. I hate this play and every word in it.” Trouble is that a single pass at this comedy will likely leave some audience members gasping to keep up with all the fast-moving historic references.

As in Our Town, Wilder takes down the fourth wall for moments in which the New Jersey characters speak one-on-one to the audience.

As with previous Listening Place Readers’ Theater productions—over the decades—only two of three performances remain, this Saturday at the Steinbeck Center in Salinas and Sunday at the Monterey Museum. If you really want to get every last drop of juice from The Skin of Our Teeth, you should plan now to attend both.