BWW Reviews: Duncan's Top Ten 2012 New York Theatre Experiences
Looking back at 2012, I saw some great theatre this year. Here's a list of my top ten favorite theatrical experiences this year. Like any list of this nature, it's subjective; most of these are from the off-off-Broadway arena where I spend most of my time. Some I reviewed, some I did not. Some I only saw because I knew people involved or someone slipped me comps. Enjoy!
10: Then She Fell: A wonderful immersive theatre experience based around Alice in Wonderland. Remarkable genuine personal moments abound. At times I truly felt I was through the looking glass. The show is currently running at the former Greenpoint Hospital in Brooklyn, and may be moving to Manhattan at the Seaport in 2013. My full review here.
9. Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights: Gertrude Stein's fragmented libretto got a jolt of fantastic energy from a wonderful new score by Deepali Gupta that drew on rock, classical, and electronica influences. Directed by Abby Stein, it was a strange and evocative piece that moved a group of actors through a pageant of electric light, devils, and magic. The piece had been staged at Brown University previously, and a Kickstarter campaign brought it to 3LD Art & Technology Center for 10 performances in July. The website for the show is gone, but the Kickstarter remains with some photos and an infuriatingly brief teaser video.
8. The Apartment Plays: Stan Richardson and Matt Steiner are a playwright and actor who have been working together for nearly six years. As The Representatives, they've been working on a fascinating project- the Apartment Plays. Intimate and personal pieces written by Richardson and starring Steiner with a loose affiliation of other actors, each play is individually crafted to exist in a specific apartment, which are donated by friends and patrons. The spontaneity of the composition allows Richardson to make the pieces ultimately contemporary. They presented three politically thought-provoking and emotionally resonant plays in their 2012 cycle (The Lower Lights; Incredible Things, Awful Things; and The Rakes: An Introduction), with more planned for next year. There is no advertising other than word of mouth; there is no admission other than a bottle of wine, to be consumed at a post-show party. www.therepresentatives.org
7. The Violet Hour: The Active Theatre's production of an excellent but neglected play (due to mishaps in its original staging on Broadway). Full review here.
6. Hearts Like Fists: The most recent addition to my list, I just reviewed this delightful comic book romantic comedy written by Adam Szymkowicz and produced by Flux Theatre Ensemble. Full review here.
5. The American Play: Ashley J. Jacobson wrote this theatrical psychological thriller about two young men who take American Psycho as a guide to life. Produced by The Dirty Blondes in this year's Planet Connections Theatre Festival, it was a chilling look at and ultimately a clever deconstruction of that mindset. http://www.thedirtyblondes.org/the-american-play.html
4. Ye Elizabeths: Also from the Planet Connections Festival, Ye Elizabeths was Written & Performed by Alicia Barnatchez and Erin Leigh Schmoyer, who played Historical Re-Enactors in a charming and giddy musical. The Elizabeths are working at Plimoth Plantation, but when they get fired, their new goal becomes getting on a Pilgrim Reality Show, which tests their enduring friendship. http://planetconnections.org/ye-elizabeths/
2. Accidentally, Like a Martyr: Grant James Varjas wrote, directed, and starred in this deeply-felt play which had its premiere in December of the previous year, but ran through January 2011, which is when I caught it. Both intensely funny and emotionally lacerating, it's about the interconnected relationships of a group of gay men of different generations, all patrons of a run-down bar in a Lower East Side that is gradually being usurped by younger flashier dance clubs.
1. The Honeycomb Trilogy: The most stunning achievement of the year was the Honeycomb Trilogy by Mac Rogers. Three science-fiction plays telling an epic story of alien invasion and human resistance (Advance Man, Blast Radius, and Soveriegn). Reviews here, here, and here.
Other kudos go out to The Ring Theatre putting on a rousing benefit staging of The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas in the tiny confines of Marie's Crisis Piano Bar, Alberto Bonilla's hilarious clown-inspired staging of Twelfth Night at the Secret Theatre, and Meri Wallace's Tango Fever which featured great performances by actual award-winning tango dancers in a fictional story.
Here's to more great theatre in 2013!
Photo: Elizbeth Carena as the Mad Hatter in Then She Fell