Sunday, December 19, 2004

"It's Cold"

My very most faverave Thornton Wilder play is "The Skin of Our Teeth." It's much less precious than his other plays, and it's totally non-linear and it involves everything I love -- mixing historical and biblical figures with contemporary social satire, blatant Brechtian style breaks, and the six hundreth annual convention of the "great fraternal order—the ancient and honorable order of mammals, subdivision humans," -- complete with an end-of-the-world-scenario about an ice age. The play opens at the household of Mr. and Mrs. Antrobus, where their two pets are stuck outside. The pets, a wooly mammoth and a dinosaur have two lines:

Mammoth: "It's cold."
Dinosaur: "It's cold."

And that's how we know the Ice Age has set in over suburban New Jersey. And the first time it snows every winter, all I can do is think about the poor, downtrodden little prehistoric pets. I heart them and my heart goes out to them the same way I feel about the poor little epsilon elevator operator in Brave New World whose only joy comes from taking the elevator up to the roof. "Roof! … Oh, roof!" he cries, thinking he'll finally get to see the sunlight once more.

Between the cold mammoth and dino and the roof-longing epsilon, it almost makes me weep for the human condition.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought you might like this column about a recent production of The Skin of Our Teeth in NJ.