I am a huge lover of Spoon River Anthology! It is by far one of my favorite books. So when I heard that it had been turned into a play, I was a bit suspicious but also curious. I was pleasantly surprised. Though nothing can compete with the original!
Basically, this play picks up where the play “Our Town” left off. For those who have not read “Spoon River Anthology”, it takes place in a town cemetery in which every inhabitant of the cemetery gets a chance to speak about their life and death. These soliloquies are compact and are typically about ten lines of free verse poems. Many of the poems are connected with others as the majority of the inhabitants of the cemetery are related to others. Due to this, each verse gives a clearer picture of the town’s residents as well as the town itself.
In regards to the play, each poem is read by its subject which include adulterers, bastards, widows, town drunks, murderers, and a whole gang of colorful residents. Similar to “Our Town”, there is minimal stage direction which places the focus of the play on the story’s strong and emotional content (where it belongs). That being said, there are few interactions between characters but those that do occur are pivotal. The poems in the play are only a selection from the original book but they are still very moving and just as dark and depressing as the original book. Despite the serious tales, there are a few glimmers of hope.