The Best in Dallas Theater 2011: Lance Lusk’s Picks

To look back at the year in theater, we asked our three theater writers to tell us the plays and performances that stood out for them in 2011. Here are Lance Lusk’s picks.

Plays

As You Like It / Macbeth (Trinity Shakespeare Festival): Three years into its run, and the Trinity Shakespeare Festival continues to provide stellar Bard work. Last summer’s repertory double-shot of a contemplative and beautiful As You Like It (dir. T.J. Walsh) and a spooky stunner of a Macbeth (dir. Stephen Fried) was no exception to that rule of excellence.

Arsenic and Old Lace (Dallas Theater Center): A big, intricate, star-studded, and complete production of a play that should be worn out by now, but DTC made it captivating and fresh.  Dir. Scott Schwartz

Easter (Undermain Theatre): I have yet to see a play at Undermain that does not crawl under my skin (in a good way), yet their divine production of Strindberg’s Easter (dir. Katherine Owens) resonates with me above all of the rest.

Morphing (The Ochre House): I have made no secret of my place firmly in the Matthew Posey fan club, but I was blown away by his dark and deft deconstruction of O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night.

Wittenberg (Amphibian Stage Productions): Wittenberg was a finely-crafted, erudite, and funny little play that hit all of the right notes.  Dir. David A. Miller

Top Female Performances

Booker T. Washington student Fiona Robberson’s portrayal of a young woman burning with religious fervor was a refreshing vision of theatrical craft.  Easter at Undermain Theatre

Another “Best Of” winner, Elly Lindsay embodied not only the best Horton Foote character in the festival, but one of the most compelling and heartbreaking of any role and play last year.  The Trip to Bountiful at Contemporary Theater of Dallas.

Elizabeth Evans was famously prickly Mexican artist Frida Kahlo in a scorcher of a performance that burns long after she wiped away the eyebrow and stubbed out her cigarettes.   Ex Voto: The Immaculate Conceptions of Frida Kahlo at Ochre House Theatre

Top Male Performances

“Best Of” winner Steven Walters delivered a blistering, one-man, off-beat performance worthy of an avant garde comic in Thom Pain (Based on Nothing) at Second Thought Theatre.

Justin Locklear had a great year (thus his Emerging Artist award by the DFW Critics Forum), and his insanely lyrical and twisted take on a matriarch in descent in Morphing is the topper.  Ochre House

Another actor with a great year under his belt is David Jeremiah.  His take on a former three-card monte con locked into a biblically intense struggle with his brother was a visceral delight. Topdog/Underdog at Jubilee Theatre.

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