Saturday, December 19, 2015


When it comes time to pen the ubiquitous Top Ten Lists at year's end, it's tough limiting theatre venues to just ten best productions of the year, especially when this critic is covering Los Angeles, San Diego, La Jolla, and Pasadena theatres.

But this intrepid writer will attempt to do just that. The following shows, in no particular order, are my selections for Best Productions of 2015.

The Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles had two such outstanding productions : 

"Bent", the poignant and compelling story of German Jews being sent to concentration camps in 1936 Germany, teaches one about the transformative power of love.
"The Price", Arthur Miller's classic play about the choices one New York family makes in the highly charged emotional barter and life assessments, is Miller at his outstanding best.
"Come from Away" at the La Jolla Playhouse was the uplifting musical written by a Canadian husband and wife team about the 2001 terrorist attacks on New York, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania and the impact 4000 unexpected passengers had on the tiny community of Gander, Newfoundland.

"Baskerville: A Sherlock Homes Mystery", at San Diego's Old Globe. An energetic highly creative, and entertaining mystery/farce production where five performers play over 45 roles at breakneck speed.

"Chapatti", at North Coast Repertory Theatre in Solana Beach, was a delightful and charming tale of love finding two senior citizens in the Emerald Isle.

"Happy Hour" at the Coachella Valley Repertory Theatre was a world premiere comedy/drama about an aging father and his son coming to grips with the reality that Dad can't live on his own anymore.

"Bad Jews" at the Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles. The biting comedy of a dysfunctional family squabbling with their cousin over family heirlooms, and who should get what, featured delicious confrontational dialogue and theatrical craftsmanship at its finest. 

"Real Women Have Curves" at the Pasadena Playhouse was a comedic and poignant exploration of the vexing issue of illegal Latina women working in Los Angeles' garment industry. Not only do they worry about deportation, they would like be appreciated for their individuality at work and at home by their families and spouses.

San Diego Rep Theatre, now in their 40th season, also had two stellar productions in the Top Ten for 2015.

"Oedipus El Rey" was a powerful adaptation of Sophocles' tragic tale of murder, ambition, and incest. Only this time the characters are Hispanics living in a Los Angeles 'barrio' instead of in the city-state of Athens some 2400 years ago.

"Uncanny Valley" was a provocative drama about the relationships between creators of robots and their avatar creations. Will science ever be able to give robots the power to think independently? The premise of such exploration may be further along than we think.

Southern California theatrical venues have sent many productions to Broadway and to regional theatres everywhere including London's West End.

If you see any of the above 2015 plays upcoming in your area, by all means, attend. You won't be disappointed.