Culture Vulture: Best of 2017

December 18, 2017

 Top Theater of 2017


The Band’s Visit – David Yazbek’s sublime musical score, impeccably direction by David Cromer, wonderful ensemble headed by Tony Shalhoub and Katrina Lenk (above).


Poor People’s TV Room – this haunting multimedia performance by electrifying dancer-creator Okwui Okpokwasili at NYLiveArts, with terrific cast directed by Peter Born, Okwui’s partner (their previous collaboration, Bronx Gothic, inspired a documentary film that was also a highlight of the year).

A Pink Chair (in Place of a Fake Antique)
– the Wooster Group outdid themselves with this almost unbearably beautiful homage to Polish theater legend Tadeusz Cantor at Bard College’s Summerscape with ambitious music overseen by Gareth Hobbs.


The Glass Menagerie
– Sam Gold’s iconoclastic Broadway staging of Tennessee Williams’ classic (above), with Sally Field, Joe Mantello, wheelchair-bound Madison Ferris as Laura, and a stark set by Andrew Lieberman, wasn’t to everybody’s taste but it was to mine.


The Town Hall Affair
– the busy Wooster Group continued to expand and refine their restaging of a 1971 forum on women’s liberation with Kate Valk’s standout evocation of Jill Johnston.


The Antipodes
– Annie Baker’s very strange and surprising play at Signature Theater beautifully staged by Lila Neugebauer (whose crazy-good production of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s wild Everybody, also at Signature, was another favorite).


Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train
– Mark Brokaw’s brutal revival of Stephen Adly Guirgis’s play.


People, Places, & Things
– an excellent cast headed by Denise Gough (superbly directed by Jeremy Herrin) and Bunny Christie’s astonishing set lit up a tough play about addiction written by Duncan Macmillan (who also wrote and directed, with Robert Icke, the terrific adaptation of Orwell’s 1984 on Broadway).


Also: Phyllida Lloyd’s The Tempest set in a women’s prison with original score by Joan Armatrading; Manual Cinema’s gorgeous Mementos Mori with music by Kyle Vegter; Laurie Metcalf and Condola Rashad in Lucas Hnath’s A Doll’s House Part 2; Rebecca Taichman’s inventive staging on Broadway of Paula Vogel’s Indecent; Jo Bonney’s impressive revival of Suzan-Lori Parks’s F**king A; KPOP, the witty, immersive piece about a Korean popstar factory at Ars Nova; David Greenspan’s miraculous solo performance of Eugene O’Neill’s nine-act Strange Interlude, directed by the Transport Group’s Jack Cummings III; Keegan-Michael Key’s lively Horatio in Sam Gold’s impenetrable staging of Hamlet at the Public; Ramsey Nsar in Ivo van Hove’s spectacular if unsatisfying staging of The Fountainhead at BAM (above); Taylor Mac’s holiday extravaganza at Town Hall; and David Zinn’s  extravagantly fun sets and costumes for SpongeBob SquarePants (below).  

Movies That Meant a Lot to Me: I Am Not Your Negro, Julieta, Get Out, Icaros: A Vision, Marjorie Prime, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, Call Me By Your Name, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, Lady Bird, The Ornithologist, Bird on a Wire (Tony Palmer’s Leonard Cohen documentary), Long Strange Trip (Amazon documentary about the Grateful Dead).

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