OUR Town, Thornton Wilders’ 1938 classic is, supposedly set in the New Hampshire town of Grover’s Corners, could be anywhere.

It points out the fragility of life compared with eternity.

The play is narrated by a stage manager (Youssef Kerkour) who in a measured and expressive performance pilots us through small town life.

The scene is first set by the comings and goings of the milkman and paperboy, a normal part of early nineteenth century life.

The decision to sit cast and audience members together at round tables on stage seems distracting and confusing. It affects the audience’s ability to connect with the characters.

With one exception. In the final moving scene. whose plot I can’t reveal, Nora Lopez Holden as Emily Webb. finally moves the audience so much you can hear a pin drop.

This scene reverses time and, the sparseness of the scenery is reversed when a hanging set descends after a snow storm.

The homes of the Gibbs and Webb families are separated by plain tables and chairs.

Mrs Gibbs (Carla Henry) and Mrs Webb (Kelly Hotten) exchange gossip in the garden when the kids are at school.

After school, we get the inkling of a romance between their offspring, George Gibbs and Emily Webb.

Patrick Elue’s George comes into his own as he nervously awaits the arrival of Emily Webb, his bride.

The use of mime is effective especially the milkman’s horse.

The singing of the beautiful hymn Blessed be the Ties that Bind is continued in the interval by the Manchester Airport choir, one of 10 others.

The play glisters with humour.

* Our Town is at the Royal Exchange Theatre until October 14. For tickets, telephone the box office at 0161 833 9833 or see royalexchange.co.uk. Star rating * * * .