austin theatre review

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Top 5 in '05

By Jonathon Morgan of Yellow Tape Construction Co.

Barry Pineo, Robert Faires, and Heather Barfield Cole posted their lists of "Top 10" theatrical performances for the past year in this week's Austin Chronicle. I'm tempted to offer my opinions on their choices, both good and bad, but that'll just get me in hot water.

Instead, I've decided to rise above such petty squabbling and mud-slinging (although, damn, it's so hard to hold back!), and post my own list. Here's the Top 5 Productions I Loved in 2005, followed the Top 5 Theatrical Bummers of 2005.

Productions I Loved in 2005

  • 1. The Match/ Deborah Hay: This piece was innovative, gripping, mesmerizing and moving. Please Deborah, please show more work here in Austin. Your Bessie is well-deserved.

  • 2. Match Play/ Rude Mechanicals (Kirk Lynn): Ok, I like the Rude Mechs a lot. I sort of feel like they put the rest of Austin's "fringe" theatre companies to shame – not quite as overwhelming as the dance it was based on, but I left the theatre challenged and inspired – both artistically and intellectually.

  • 3. Whispers of Heaven/ Sally Jacques: Well, I didn't love it, I liked it a lot. Ms Jaques created truly beautiful stage pictures – so much so that I didn't mind the (relatively speaking) bland choreography. It must be hard to do aerial work. So, even though Ms. Jacques has been a little rude to my company, I still give her the thumbs up for creating what I can best describe as paintings in motion.

  • 4. AMERICAMISFIT/ Salvage Vanguard (Dan Dietz): This solidified it for me: Dan Dietz is an awesome playwright. When a person can play with ideas, language, history and time – all while creating a visceral, engaging, rockstar-inspired style, he's got my vote for president. Why is this all the way down at number 4? Well, the production for me had its ups and downs. It wasn't an easy text to stage, to be sure, but when my attention waned, I felt like production wasn't communicating the story as well as it should have.

  • 5. Up in the Old Hotel/ Refraction Arts: Cool set, cool story, well-performed. It was slightly subdued for my taste, but nice moments of theatricality, and a very smoothly directed production.

  • Top 5 Theatrical Bummers in 2005

  • 1. The Flu Season/ Championship Theatre (Will Eno): This play is a marvel, Will Eno is a genius, but I felt like this production missed the point. Bummer.

  • 2. La Putain Avec Le Fluers /Roho Productions: Yeah, I really, really wanted to like this play. These guys seem like a very driven new company, with a well-written play. Lack of direction and weak lead actor brought it all down. Bummer.

  • 3. Pale Idiot /Rude Mechs 2nd Stage (Kirk Lynn): I know, I love the Rude Mechs, and this is a very cool play from Kirk Lynn, but this production seemed stale, and was missing the vitality of their mainstage fare. Bummer.

  • 4. Water Principal/ Hyde Park Theatre: It was just…slow…and "effected"…Bummer.

  • 5. Three Cuckolds /Tongue and Groove: This started out with so much energy! It was funny, the characters were engaging, I was into it. But then, even though the story got crazier, instead of spiraling out of control into a truly insane, hilarious production, it's like it ran out of gas. Nothing more heart wrenching then watching a good show go down, and some good actors trying to be funny when no one's laughing. Bummer.

  • Agree? Disagree? Comment below or email Jonathon.


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