Our Town by Thornton Wilder is a drama about everyday life. It takes place in a small town, Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, in the early 1900's. Made up of three acts, Our Town is a simple story about the simple things that we take for granted.
The three acts describe life, love, and death. In the first two, nothing extraordinary happens. A picture of life in Grover’s Corners is created. The milkman comes, the kids go to school, the fathers go to work, and the mothers cook dinner. A young girl and a young boy get married; they have some doubts, but go through with it anyway.
The third act brings the play together when the girl who had been married earlier dies, and finds herself in the cemetery with the other dead. She is told that she can go back and watch any part of her life, if she wants, but the others in the cemetery tell her that it is not a good idea, and that she would be better off just trying to forget her life. She cannot understand this, so she takes the trip back to her life, choosing to relive her twelfth birthday. She sees things she has long forgotten, and things that she never even noticed. She is delighted at the sight of the white picket fence around her house that they had taken out long ago. From the outside, she can notice every detail of everything that is going on, things she never noticed then. But that is the problem: she is on the outside, and she cannot be part of it. She cannot relive it with her new understanding. She tries to get her mother to look at her, but her mother cannot see her. The agony she experiences from her now-useless new view of life brings her back to the cemetery, where she wonders if people ever realize life while they live it. As one character puts it, "The saints and poets, maybe--they do some." Then she just remembers to forget.
An interesting aspect of this play is its staging. There are few props, and little scenery. This shows the simplicity of the whole play, but also the depth. This message about life, the things people forget about, mundane and ordinary things that no one really notices, is what the story is about. Through using no scenery, Thornton Wilder magnifies the theme of the importance of the little things in life, and how very great they really are. They are what make life what it is, and most people don't notice this until it is too late, if at all. By using no scenery, one sees these lives in the simplest possible way, and sees how great they are in just their ordinary routine.