Wednesday, January 1, 2020

The Top 10 North Texas Play Productions of 2019

I attended 46 theater productions this past year, all of them in North Texas. Later this week TheaterJones will publish my year's highlights list, in which you'll be able to see which of these productions I named the best. But since I didn't have the time or space in my article to talk about the field of contenders, I thought I'd post something here.

I saw some incredible work, and I'm proud to be a critic, journalist, blogger, activist, and supporter of the arts in this region. My list is alphabetical by playwright's last name, and I'm including some basic comments with links to my reviews.
  • Caryl Churchill's Drunk Enough to Say I Love You and Here We Go by Second Thought Theatre — Two one acts by probably the most important living playwright today, and also the first time I've seen a production of Churchill's work. I've only recently started seeing Second Thought, and to make it up to them, as well as to acknowledge their skill and artistry, I'm allowing them two places on my list. Their next season looks amazing.
  • Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot by Forth Worth Community Arts Center — My review. One of my favorite plays by one of my favorite group of actors. This is maybe only the third time I've seen this show live. Interesting interpretation.
  • Guillermo Calderón's Villa (trans. William Gregory) by Teatro Dallas —I love Teatro. I saw my first Teatro production in 1989, which was also when I fell in love with their artistic director Cora Cardona. This was an intense play based on the aftermath of the Pinochet regime with an outstanding cast and interesting set.
  • Blake Hackler's What We Were by Second Thought Theatre — I felt shell shocked after watching this hard-hitting family drama by a local playwright, but the script was gorgeous in a brutal sort of way, and it was acted by a strong ensemble.
  • Samuel D. Hunter's The Few by Resolute Theatre Project —My review. Another great cast performing in the first Hunter play I've seen. I actually requested to review it just because of its director and because I'd heard so much about Hunter. The technical aspects were as flawless as the acting. I hope to see more by the playwright and this theater group.
  • Matthew Paul Olmos'  so go the ghosts of méxico, part three, a poet sings the daughter songs by Undermain Theatre —I've been attending plays by Undermain since 1988. Everything they do is interesting even if I may not like a particular show. Olmos's work is exquisite; he's one of my favorite playwrights, so it was great to see this show premiere here with actors who I know and like. Another gorgeous and brutal work.
  • Peter Shaffer's Equus by Lakeside Community Theatre —My review. Outstanding direction by Adam Adolfo, whose vision was revelatory. One of my favorite plays. Strong cast with good technical aspects.
  • Sam Shepard's Buried Child by Tarrant Actors Regional Theatre —My review. One of the first plays that fired my imagination. I'm a die-hard Shepard fan, though I finally got comfortable with the fact that he was a terrible person in spite of his writing skill. Amazing actors. Good direction and set.
  • Sam Shepard's Fool for Love by The Classics Theatre Project —My review. Another Shepard play, but this time by a new group on the scene. TCTP has easily become one of my favorite theater groups in their first full season. And their production of Tennessee William's Summer and Smoke could easily be on this list, but I had to cut a lot of shows to stick to the top-10 format. I can't imagine a more perfect cast. Great technical theater. Stellar production overall.
  • Steve Yockey's Reykjavík by Kitchen Dog Theater —My review. I didn't think I'd be interested in this show, but it captured my attention. Good cast. Fabulous design. And I trust Kitchen Dog. I've been seeing their shows since I can't remember when, back when The MAC was actually on McKinney Avenue. I hate that I only caught this one show by Kitchen Dog this year, but it was a memorable production.
North Texas is a rarity in that it sustains so many mid- and high-tier local theater companies. Some cities, even larger ones, do not have the thriving theater scene that Dallas and Forth Worth (and all their suburbs) have, so the trick is to to continue to support it and to not take it for granted. I'll do my part.

Please check out my year-end article on TheaterJones to see which of these ten outstanding productions I named the best of 2019.

No comments:

Post a Comment