The 25 Best Stage Shows of 2013

12/18/2013 4:00 AM |

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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Julie Taymor came back from her very public Spider-Man debacle to direct this dreamy and spectacular production of the Shakespeare comedy, featuring a memorable Kathryn Hunter as a Puck pitched somewhere between Joel Grey’s Emcee and Robert Blake’s Mystery Man.

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We don’t get why Frances McDormand performed this artist’s lecture at BAM Fisher while its author Suzanne Bocanegra fed lines to her from stage left. But McDormand was great, and so was the lecture, so who are we to complain?

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Hotel Colors

Anyone who speaks even just a little Italian would have been rolling in the Bushwick Starr’s aisles at this transliterated play about young people in a hostel. (“Does it displease you if I control my email now?”) But it was also a moving illustration of how, as strangers get to know each other, initial conflict fades, small communities form, and friendships are born.

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Street Scene

Brave New World Repertory Theater took Elmer Rice’s 1929 Pulitzer-winning play about stoop life and set it on a real Park Slope stoop, forcing scripted drama to interact with unpredictable city life, which provided unscriptable energy, something spontaneous and real, blurring the lines of where the fiction begins and thus deepening the emotional impact of its heroes’ lovesicknesses.

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Here Lies Love

Here is one of the rockin’-est shows ever made about oppression and dictatorship—and a great example of immersive theater being used for a reason rather than a gimmick. Telling the story of Imelda Marcos, the notorious first lady of the Philippines, it forced the audience to move and dance around a shifting set in an effective demonstration of how oppressed people are forced to march in lockstep behind their all-powerful leaders.

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Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

It takes no small amount of chutzpah to so directly model yourself after Chekhov, but Christopher Durang’s gambit paid off with a deserved Tony for best play. Backed by one of the ablest casts of the year—David Hyde Pierce and Kristine Nielsen are among 2013’s standouts—Durang’s brilliant dialogue probed unconventional family dynamics in ways both hilarious and heartwrenching.