BEST THEATER FOR DRAMA Minneapolis 2003 - Jungle Theater
There's no shortage of deserving recipients of this honor, but the Jungle deserves singling out for its deftly directed treatments of new and rarely seen material. As always, artistic director Bain Boehlke delivered his painstakingly crafted sets, chose excellent plays, and attracted some of the finest actors in town. This year, he also opened the door to visiting directors, including Casey Stangl and exciting new-kid-in-town Bryan Bevell. Last fall the theater presented Hapgood, an eloquent Tom Stoppard spygame that had as much to do with secrets of personal identity as it did with secrets of foreign intelligence. Lead actor Charity Jones--whose cold skin masked warm blood beneath--had all the prim charisma of a BBC miniseries lead, and the same quietly stirring Brit sex appeal. Becky Mode's Fully Committed, a breezy and irresistible showcase for actor Nathan Keepers, was a deserving runaway hit for the theater, a perfect alternative to holiday shows that sacrificed none of the good cheer. And Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, which opened the 2003 season, raised timeless moral questions through a shifting tale of four intertwined, working-class New Yorkers. The show also solicited an especially eye-opening performance from Gus Lynch, whose talent is as robust as his build.