Top 10 Plays of 2016
Year-end recaps are subjective by nature and way more so when you’re one person who can’t possibly make it out to every show that’s happening. I saw about two dozen plays this year, representing (by my count) fourteen different companies. Most of them were good! (I counted four clunkers and if you email me privately I’ll let you know what they were.) But these ten productions really stood out for me.
10. Mr. Burns (Brown University)
9. Frost/Nixon (Counter-Productions)
8. West Side Story (Theatre By The Sea)
7. Harold and Maude (2nd Story Theatre)
6. Beowulf: One Thousand Years of Baggage (Trinity Rep)
5. Stupid Fucking Bird (The Wilbury Group)
4. db (Strange News / PVD Fringe)
3. Before We Begin (Strange Attractor)
2. Happy Birthday Wanda June (Burbage)
1. Appropriate (Trinity Rep)
What I said then:
Trinity Rep’s Appropriate is a sprawling, gut-churning comedy about a white Southern family that refuses to acknowledge its late patriarch’s insidious past. A rounded stage with gauzy curtains lends a distant feel to the first act, a Tennessee Williams-style free-for-all where seven members of an Arkansas clan (plus one hippie girlfriend) take turns revealing how much they can’t stand one another. By the third act, though, the stakes have escalated and the audience seems just as guilty as everyone else. The laughter gets progressively more uncomfortable, and several moments in the play elicited audible gasps. It’s definitely one of the more challenging shows I’ve ever seen.