The Year 2013 in theater

The strongest performances and productions of the year

Here's a look back at our favorite moments in theater over the past 12 months.

10. Displaced Hindu Gods, Mixed Blood Theatre

Aditi Brennan Kapil explored her Indian heritage in a trio of new works (Brahman/I, The Chronicles of Kalki, Shiv) staged over the course of a single evening. It's hard to imagine a more diverse trio coming from a single author, with such consistently top-notch staging and acting throughout.

John Catron in Misterman
Tony Nelson
John Catron in Misterman

9. The Road Weeps, the Well Runs Dry, Pillsbury House Theatre

Marcus Gardley's play is an epic in every sense of the word, and it came through, even in Pillsbury House's tiny theater. There was an intense narrative sweep at work here, one that the extremely talented company took up and built into a compelling evening.

8. Lolita: A Three Man Show, Four Humors

Three actors, all male, brought Stanley Kubrick's film adaptation to the stage with hilarious and troubling results. The limitations of the Minnesota Fringe Festival format didn't hinder the action here, but intensified the frantic humor and madcap commentary.

7. The Receptionist, Dark & Stormy Productions

Sally Wingert led a talented four-actor cast through Adam Bock's dark-as-midnight workplace comedy. The experience was intensified by the found location — a recently vacated downtown office space — that seemed to be haunted by the true nature of the Northeast Office's work.

6. To the Moon, Open Eye Figure Theatre

Taking risks is hard-wired into the DNA of Open Eye and Bedlam Theatre, and creators from both companies worked together for this remix of The Honeymooners via Greek tragedy. There was always a chance the show would collapse under its conceit, but the fully realized absurdist world and the performance of Maren Ward overwhelmed any concerns.

5. An Iliad, Guthrie Theater

On the surface, this adaptation of Homer's epic seems simple: A single actor (Stephen Yoakam) shares the tale of the siege of Troy, recreating the action through the power of his performance. The play, however, found additional depth in an already deep well, and Yoakam presented one of the year's signature performances.

4. Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, Walking Shadow Theatre Company

Craig Johnson stepped back into his Oscar Wilde wig for an absolutely compelling examination of the great author's fall from grace. Though Johnson's performance was central to the action, the entire cast put in remarkable performances under the skillful direction of Amy Rummenie.

3. A Streetcar Named Desire, Ten Thousand Things

Director Randy Reyes honed Tennessee Williams's work down to its essentials: Stanley, Stella, Blanche, and Mitch. There were no distractions for these characters on their journey of lost souls. The quartet of actors was top-notch, and Ten Thousand Things' stripped-down staging only intensified the performances.

2. Urinetown, Jungle Theater

John Command's second go-around at the Jungle filled the stage with top-notch performances in this musical send-up. The always estimable Bradley Greenwald may have been at the fore, but it was the whole company that brought this musical tale of an oppressed society yearning to "pee free" near the top of this list.

1. Misterman, Frank Theatre

Finally, we come to a production that put one actor (John Catron, in the year's most captivating performance) on stage with a bunch of audiotapes. Playwright Enda Walsh channeled his inner Samuel Beckett for this dark, disturbing, and funny piece. Toss in award-winning sound design from Michael Croswell and the always-strong direction of Wendy Knox, and you had a recipe for the best show of the year.

 
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