Favorite Plays of 2008

Looking back over the year, I see that there are about 30 plays that I wrote about in 2008. That’s a lot of theater, especially considering that I don’t post about every single show I see. (Not much point in posting about things I didn’t like; I’d rather point people to things I enjoyed.)

Here are the 10 local productions that jumped out at me when I reviewed the list, plus one I remember leaving at intermission, in the order that I saw them:

  • Dead Mother by David Greenspan at Traveling Jewish Theater. Took everything there is in theater — Greek theater, staged readings, monologues, dialogue, gender-bending, impossible stage directions, someone dressed as a sperm whale — and jammed it into one play.
  • Lost & Found by David Ackerman at Sleepwalkers Theatre. Everything was top-notch, but the acting by Ian Riley and Sarah Savage was particularly brilliant.
  • The Scene by Theresa Rebeck at SF Playhouse. Heather Gordon’s acting blew away everyone who saw it — then she moved away to go to Harvard.
  • Jukebox Stories by Prince Gomolvilas and Brandon Patton at Impact Theatre. Pure genius: funny, dramatic, theatrical, and participatory (in a good way).
  • Tings Dey Happen by Dan Hoyle at The Marsh. Terrific one-man show with a stunning performance and fascinating subject.
  • Tragedy: A Tragedy by Will Eno at Berkeley Rep. Lots of people didn’t like it; I thought it was great: what Beckett would be doing if he was around today.
  • Ching Chong Chinaman by Lauren Yee at Impact Theatre. Funny, hip, irreverent, theatrical, and sold out every night.
  • The K of D by Laura Schellhardt at Magic Theatre. Gorgeous language, a compelling story, and something that could only happen in a theater.
  • The Devil’s Disciple by George Bernard Shaw at Aurora Theatre. Remarkably contemporary with brilliant performances by Gabriel Marin and Warren David Keith.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party by Aaron Loeb at SF Playhouse. Rapid changes from drama to comedy, fantastic acting, and an ingenious structure.

And one that didn’t work for me, which I walked out of at intermission:

  • Figaro by Theatre Juene Lune at Berkeley Rep. The story just didn’t work and the contemporary political jokes were way out of place. The only show I didn’t stay to the end of this year.
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