Thursday, December 31, 2015

Best theatre of 2015

I simply saw too much theatre in 2015 to try to boil it down to a top 5 or even a top 10.  I'll just list the plays that I found something notable to enjoy, as best as I can recall in the order I attended these plays.  (I'd say this covers 65% or so of the non-Shakespearean theatre I attended, though there were a few shows I really didn't care for, which I will let sink without a trace.)  I've tried to include all the links to meaningful internal posts with my thoughts, but I'm sure I missed a few.

The Other Place by Sharr White (Canadian Stage)

The Object Lesson by Geoff Sobelle (Harbourfront)
Les Liaisons Dangereuses by Pierre de Laclos/adapted by Christopher Hampton (Red One)
Problem Child by George F. Walker (Red Sandcastle)

Blithe Spirit by Noel Coward (Mirvish)
A Woman is a Secret by John Patrick Shanley (RipJaw/Storefront Theatre)
Blood Wedding by Federico Garcia Lorca (Buddies in Bad Times)

Travesties by Tom Stoppard (Segal Centre - Montreal)
Infinity by Hannah Moscovitch (Tarragon)
Nongogo by Athol Fugard (Canadian Stage)
Boston Marriage by David Mamet (Headstrong Collective @ Campbell House)

The Bigger Issue by George F. Walker (Crazy Lady/Theatre Passe Muraille)
Trudeau and the FLQ by Michael Hollingsworth (Video Cabaret)
Trudeau and Levesque by Michael Hollingsworth (Video Cabaret)

Top Girls by Caryl Churchill (Shaw)
Mud by Maria Fornes (Theatre Asylum)

The Comedy of Errors by Shakespeare (Canadian Stage - High Park)
The Physicists by Friedrich Dürrenmatt (Stratford) 
887 by Robert LePage (Canadian Stage)

Intelligent Homosexual's Guide ... by Tony Kushner (Shaw)
The Tall Building by Jill Connell (Toronto Fringe)
Merry Wives of Windsor by Shakespeare (Toronto Fringe)
Twelfe Night by Shakespeare (Toronto Fringe)
Moby Dick by Herman Melville/adapted by David Catlin (Lookingglass - Chicago)

We the Family by George F. Walker (Hart House)
Albertine in Five Times by Michel Tremblay (UT Drama Centre)
Possible Worlds by John Mighton (Stratford) 

Yours Forever, Marie-Lou by Michel Tremblay (Soulpepper)

Talking Heads by Alan Bennett (Perfectly Peter @ Campbell House)
Wonder of the World by David Lindsay-Abaire (East Side Players)
Lady Windermere's Fan by Oscar Wilde (George Brown)
The Castle by Howard Barker (Red One) 

I did see one play in December (Tails from the City), which was an outdoor spectacle at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto.  I took my daughter.  She enjoyed it, even though we got caught up in a bit of a snowstorm, but even she agreed there was no meaningful plot, so I can't really put it up against these other plays.  After some back and forth, I decided I am going to skip Red One's The Chasse-Galerie, though I might go next year if they do make this an annual event.  I'm also going to skip the remount of Three Men in a Boat, since I already did see it and I need to be at least a bit smarter about money.  (It was/is worth seeing once, however.)

There were a couple of rarities on the list -- not only the dusting off of Dürrenmatt's The Physicists, which I enjoyed quite a bit (possibly my favourite production at Stratford this year), but Fugard's Nongogo and Fornes's Mud.  There is no question that I didn't see all that many comedies this year (aside from Shakespeare).  Even Stoppard's Travesties is a mix of humour and history, though I enjoyed it very much.  Probably the purest laugh-out-loud comedy of the year was Wonder of the World.  Not sure about next year -- it will probably be dominated by "serious" plays, but I'll probably see the farce Boeing Boeing at Hart House in the spring.

There certainly are a few interesting things on the horizon for 2016, but I'll probably just try to port this page over and extend it to cover the second half of 2016, rather than going into great detail here.  I do think I am going to cut way back at Stratford this year (only the Ibsen play for certain and possibly All My Sons if the reviews are very strong).  There are actually two plays that are probably worth seeing at Shaw -- Strindberg's Dance of Death and perhaps Shaw's Mrs. Warren's Profession (again depending on the reviews).  If this was all in Toronto, I would go to both of these and even Wilde's A Woman of No Importance, but I just do not care to travel that far.  Maybe if they come up with a shuttle bus like Stratford I would consider going, but for now Shaw is off my radar.  That's probably just as well, since it seems I am most attuned to independent theatre anyway, judging by what I really enjoyed over 2015.

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