BEST THEATER FOR DRAMA (2005)

Guthrie Lab

While last year's Guthrie Mainstage shows were of the sort that one admired rather than loved, the action taking place in the Guthrie Lab possessed a consistently high level of quality and adventurism that made it the closest thing to a sure bet. Lady with a Lapdog was Chekhov on truth serum, full of manic highs and dreamy lows. Blue/Orange paired Peter Macon and Stephen Yoakam as a mental patient and psychiatrist in a mental duel that later spilled over to the Guthrie's excellent staging of Oedipus. Earlier this year cockeyed genius Joel Sass staged Pericles, maybe the oddest of Shakespeare's plays, as a warped phantasm. And before that, the Royal Court Theatre popped into town to present the late Sarah Kane's suicidal meltdown 4:48 Psychosis, which converted a corner of the Lab into a desperately harrowing space. Intimate and comfortable, the Guthrie Lab provides high-level regional theater with considerably more risk than the usual Mainstage offerings--which, in 2004, tended to be safe choices rendered with a somewhat antiseptic polish.