10 - ECLIPSED, by Danai Gurira, directed by Leisl Tommy, produced on Broadway in New York, NY
A play set during the Second Liberation Civil War and following the multiple wives (kidnapped sex slaves) of the Commanding Officer could have easily been on of the darkest and sobering plays of the year. But Gurira is a gifted playwright determined to unpack dark moments in an intelligent and often ironic way.
9- SHUFFLE ALONG, OR THE MAKING OF THE MUSICAL OF 1921 AND ALL THAT FOLLOWED, music and lyrics by Eubie Blake and Noble Sissle, book by George C. Wolfe, Flournoy Miller, and Aubrey Lyles, directed by George C. Wolfe, produced on Broadway in New York, NY
It would have simply been enough to see a rockstar cast of musical theatre actors on stage together, but George C. Wolfe's passion project of rearranging the score of Shuffle Along to document the history the original production made was a delight for any devoted theatre goer. It also featured the year's best choreography by Savion Glover.
8 - 1984, adapted from the novel by George Orwell by Robert Icke, Duncan Macmillan, directed by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan, produced at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA
Prior to it's Broadway production, Headlong's 1984 played at A.R.T. in Cambridge. I will not soon forget the hoards of theatre patrons fleeing for the doors during the gruesome torture scenes in this stage adaptation of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece
7 - RHINOCEROS by Eugene Ionesco, translated by Derek Prouse, adapted and directed by Wesley Savick, produced in collaboration by Boston Playwrights Theatre and Suffolk University in Boston, MA
This present day set revival of Ionesco's play felt less absurd and more inescapable. (and this production premiered before the Presidential Primary Election!)
6 - THE WOLVES, by Sarah DeLappe, directed by Lila Neugebauer, produced by The Playwrights Realm in New York, NY
A landmark debut for Ms. DeLappe, THE WOLVES only touches the tip of an iceberg in the themes it introduces and the taut one-act directed by Lila Neugebauer leaves you cheering for this team of young female athletes.
5 - THE CONVERT, by Danai Gurira, directed by Megan Sandberk-Zakian, produced by Underground Railway Theatre in Cambridge, MA
Playwright Danai Gurira's three-act drama about transformation during British colonization in Rhodesia was presented in a sterling production under the direction of Megan Sandberg-Zakian.
4 - VIETGONE, by Qui Nguyen, directed by May Adrales, produced at Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, NY
Infusing rap into a story flipping the perspective on Japanese Interment Camps in the United States worked brilliantly in Nguyen's ensemble driven comedy.
3 - FAMILIAR, by Danai Gurira, directed by Rebecca Taichman, produced at Playwrights Horizon in New York, NY
Danai Gurira had quite the year with three production's of her plays making it onto my list and it was no contest FAMILIAR ranks the highest. Her twist on a classic family drama felt as fresh as it was hilarious.
2 - THE HARVEST by Samuel D. Hunter, directed by Davis McCallum, produced at LCT3 in New York, NY
The Harvest is centered around people unknowingly lost fighting for salvation. McCallum's production was a devastating experience that sneaks up and chokes as liberal audiences fight to separate their image of a happy ending from how it would look for people on the inside.
1 - THE PLOUGH AND THE STARS by Sean O'Casey, directed by Sean Holmes, produced at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA
This angsty reimagining of Sean O'Casey's tragedy reminded me the present day fight for democracy is occurring outside the borders of this country. Political conflict a is worldly plague and our heritage should not separate ourselves from others. "There's no such thing as an Irishman, or an Englishman, or a German or a Turk; we're all only human bein's."