Monday, December 31, 2012

Wendy Caster's 2012 Top Ten

One of the luxuries of being a blogger rather than writing for a publication is being able to pick and choose what shows to see. Because I get to focus on plays that interest me or are written by playwrights I admire or feature actors I like, I enjoy/am impressed by a high percentage of pieces that I see.

Becky Byers, August Schulenburg
Photo: Isaiah Tanenbaum
Which is why I have a top 15 this year (which actually includes 18 shows total). For me, 2012 was another rewarding year in New York theater.

And, once again, most of these wonderful shows are not Broadway shows. Even in 2012, people still write about what's wrong with theatre when they're actually discussing what's wrong with Broadway. High ticket prices, stunt casting, endless revivals, safe choices: these are all Broadway issues.

Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway are fairly exploding with innovation and talent. And tickets are inexpensive to downright cheap. At $18, which is a common cost for an OOB show, you could see seven productions, in excellent seats, for the price of one ticket to Mary Poppins--and still have money left over for a movie.  

The list is in alphabetical order.
  1. Antigone: Extant Arts Company's shattering production.

  2. Court-Martial at Fort Devens: A clear, efficient, and devastating courtroom drama.

  3. Disaster!: The laugh per minute ratio at Seth Rudetsky's musical take-off of disaster films was off the charts.

  4. Flux Theatre Ensemble: Hearts Like Fists; Deinde: I imagine that at some point Flux will produce a dud, but it hasn't happened yet!

  5. The Great God Pan: Amy Herzog covers familiar territory and makes it fresh and heartbreaking.

  6. Honeycomb Trilogy II and III: Blast Radius and SovereignMac Rogers gives us meaning, feeling, compassion, humor, and giant bugs. What more could one ask for?

  7. An Iliad: A one-man tour de force that shows how little the human race has learned over the centuries.

  8. The Mikado: With Kelli O'Hara, Victoria Clark, and Christopher Fitzgerald, this Mikado was one of those evenings that makes a person feel unbelievably grateful to be alive and in New York.

  9. Once: Sweet, delicate, and lovely--and rollicking!

  10.  Slowgirl: Subtly acted, beautifully written--I hope someone brings this back for a longer run.

  11. This Is Fiction: Can a family survive the truth? It's a question that was asked in many plays this year, but This Is Fiction provided a unique, quietly realistic, and convincing exploration of the answer.

  12. Tribes: Playwright Nina Raine brought us right into the life of a deaf young man in a clueless family.

  13. Triumphant Baby: In a just world, Lorinda Lisitza would be a huge star.

  14. Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike: Christopher Durang channels Anton Chekhov and, well, Christopher Durang in this hysterical satire with a heart. Kristine Nielsen’s Maggie Smith imitation is itself worth the price of admission.

  15. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf: Who knew that there was yet more to get out of this classic play?

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