Friday, February 01, 2008

Plays: Best and Worst of 2007

Before the calendar turns to 2009 on me, last year (as opposed to last, 2006-2007, season, or the current 07-08) in theater, considered in list format (Top Ten-ish, and worthy remainders). Winners and sinners below; those on the plus side that are still running (*) are worth seeing on your next New York trip, those on the minus side worth fleeing if they turn up anywhere near your vicinity.


10) Follies and Gypsy (Encores!): High-water marks for the revival series, the latter headed to Broadway.

9) King Lear (BAM): Ian McKellen, naked inside and out.

8) 110 in the Shade (Broadway/Roundabout, Studio 54): An overlooked musical, an unmissable performer in Audra McDonald.

7) Blackbird (MTC): Agonizing drama played to the hilt by Jeff Daniels and Alison Pill.

6) Crime and Punishment (59E59): In 90 minutes, three actors pierce the dark heart of Dostoyevsky, in (another) welcome Chicago import.

5) *Rock 'n' Roll (Broadway/Bernard B. Jacobs): Tom Stoppard at peak performance. I wish there were two more parts, like the (inferior, overrated) Coast of Utopia.

4) Jerry Springer--The Opera (Bailiwick Rep, Chicago): Not the unevenly reviewed concert version just staged at Carnegie Hall but the superb full production it received, which we were fortunate to catch last May.

3) Translations (Broadway/MTC, Biltmore): A heart-breaking revival of a truly beautiful play.

2) Journey's End (Broadway/Belasco): The best of the year's British imports, and a tremendously moving experience.

1) *August: Osage County (Broadway/Steppenwolf, Imperial): In charge now, the fiercest and funniest show in ages (pictured).

ELEVENS (in alphabetical order):

The Beebo Brinker Chronicles (4th St. Theater, transferring to 37 Arts); Bingo with the Indians (Flea); The Coast of Utopia: Voyage (Broadway/Lincoln Center); Edward Scissorhands (BAM); Frost/Nixon (Broadway/Bernard B. Jacobs); Jack Goes Boating (Public); Peter and Jerry (Second Stage); The Piano Teacher (Vineyard); The Return of the Prodigal (Mint); The Voysey Inheritance (Atlantic); Xanadu (Broadway/Helen Hayes).


10) American Sligo (Rattlestick): Bad Rapp.

9) The Wooster Group's Hamlet (Public): Not to be.

8) Frankenstein (37 Arts). Not undead, merely dead.

7) Walmartopia (Minetta Lane): All aisles closed.

6) *The Farnsworth Invention (Broadway/Music Box): Huffing and puffing, theater for those who prefer TV.

5) *Grease (Broadway/Brooks Atkinson): The one no one wants.

4) Our Leading Lady (MTC): Busch-whacked.

3) Election Day (Second Stage Uptown): No votes for this painful, barely political farce.

2) The Power of Darkness (Mint): An excruciating production unearthed from Tolstoy. The books are better.

1) LoveMusik (Broadway/MTC, Biltmore): Smarmy feel-goodish musical about near-unbearable genuises, made cuddly and likable for a Broadway audience. That sound you hear is Brecht, Weill, and Lenya rolling in their graves with mocking laughter.

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