Tad Simons's Top/Bottom Five for 1997

THE TOP

1. Kalevala: Dream of the Salmon Maiden, co-produced by the Walker Art Center, Frank Theatre, the Southern Theatre, and Ruth Mackenzie

Created by Mackenzie, Kalevala was an almost frighteningly passionate mix of music, myth, and movement, wholly original and entirely unforgettable.

2. Old Wicked Songs, Minnesota Jewish Theater Company

A beautiful play (by Jon Marans) about the connection between music and life, featuring actors who could actually play the piano. Bravissimo.

3. The Education of Walter Kaufmann, Frank Theatre

Hilariously twisted. Kevin Kling strikes again.

4. The Adding Machine, Chopping Block Theatre

Chopping Block pulled off this Kafkaesque comedy by Elmer Rice with actors far too young for their parts and almost no budget.

5. House of Blue Leaves, Jungle Theater

The Jungle's first version of this John Guare play in 1992 was great. The revival was better.

THE BOTTOM

1. Ten Little Indians, Park Square Theatre

Murder most foul, it was dead from the start.

2. The Price, Guthrie Theater

Second acts don't get much more anti-climactic.

3. The Winged Seed, Pangea Theater

Adapted by David Mura from a book by Li-Young Lee, this was an epically ponderous misfire.

4. The Crackwalker, Hidden Theatre

Hidden Theatre actually did a commendable job with this production, but it is a vile little play about stupid people doing stupid things, and I hated it with a passion. So there.

5. SPECIAL AWARD FOR WORST EXECUTION OF A GREAT IDEA:

The Pursuit of Happiness: Cinemamericaand Lifeliberty, Theatre de la Jeune Lune

Maybe next time.

 
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