Sunday, December 20, 2009

My Top Ten-ish

Lynn Nottage photographed
by Joan Marcus

In contrast to my fellow blogger Cameron Kelsall, I found this to be an exciting year in New York Theatre, anchored by a number of excellent shows by contemporary playwrights. I saw just over 100 shows and rated 25 of them A-, A, or A+. I managed to get my list down to 11 shows, but it wasn’t easy (I've linked each show to my original review).

The best show of the year, for me, was Ruined at the
Manhattan Theatre Club. I have rarely been as affected by a work of art. Written by Lynn Nottage, directed by Kate Whoriskey, and performed brilliantly, Ruined was heartbreaking and important.

The rest of the list is in reverse alphabetical order, just for a change of pace.
  • Vieux Carre (The Pearl Theatre): Tennessee Williams’ autobiographical drama in a solid, moving production.
  • Universal Robots (Manhattan Theatre Source): Mac Rogers examines the meaning of being—and not being—human.
  • Twelfth Night (Shakespeare in the Park): I hope Shakespeare was able to watch this evening of pure delight from the great beyond.
  • Streetcar Named Desire (Barrington Stage Company, Berkshires): A fresh look at Williams’ masterpiece without all the shtick of the BAM production.
  • Next to Normal (Broadway): A grown-up rock-ish musical full of naked emotion and superb performances, particularly Alice Ripley’s.
  • Lizzie Borden (Off-Off Broadway):Kick-ass rock combined with a wry point of view; this show made bumping off one’s parents seem like a smart thing to do.
  • Lesser Seductions of History (Flux Theatre Ensemble): August Schulenburg examines the 1960s with great compassion, insight, and humor.
  • Joe Turner's Come and Gone (Lincoln Center Theatre): A beautiful production of August Wilson's magical and moving depiction of people searching for a place and a person to call home.
  • Dollhouse (Mabou Mines, St. Ann’s Warehouse): What might sound like a gimmick in theory—casting unusually short men and unusually tall women—turned out in practice to be a stroke of brilliance, revitalizing Ibsen’s well-known play.
  • Arcadia (Folger Shakespeare Library, Washington, DC): An excellent production of one of my all-time favorite plays.

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