BEST INDEPENDENT THEATER - 2003
Mary Worth Theatre Company
The Mary Worth Theatre Company produces strange, hypnotizing plays. Plays that don't necessarily make their meaning explicit but always seem to burrow into your consciousness and hang around long after the production has come and gone at one of the vagabond company's temporary homes (the Cedar-Riverside People's Center, the Playwrights' Center, the scene shop (!) of Theatre de la Jeune Lune). After acclaimed 2002 productions of Lisa D'Amour's 16 Spells to Charm the Beast and W. David Hancock's The Race of the Arc Tattoo, Mary Worth began 2003 with Crazyface, a darkly comic fantasy by playwright and horror-movie director Clive Barker. Like similarly inventive local theaters such as Frank and Bedlam, Joel Sass and Co. have a knack for milking a limited budget for all it's worth. For Crazyface, the company made a simple canvas backdrop suggest something ominous and otherworldly, and costume designer Mary Anne Culligan combined circus-like makeup with rags and hand-me-downs to create some wonderful getups. The play followed an innocent dreamer through a sometimes bloody, medieval coming-of-age quest, putting him in contact with a string of silly and spooky characters (generally both). It was grotesque at times, but also sweet, and full of memorable scenes and images. Mary Worth has no regular season, and will sometimes spend a year or more working something up. Like Heinz ketchup or that certain someone, they're worth waiting for.