Pushing the Envelope
Sunday, June 29, 2008
In the firm belief that what the world needs now is more awards, I hereby submit, for all of your considerations, notable achievements in the Washington theater season just ended. (I'd love to hand out trophies at a lavish banquet hosted by Scarlett Johansson and Shia LaBeouf, but belt-tightening by the planning committee limits me to this artful centerfold.)
It has been an especially rich season, worthy of recognition. Estimable new plays (Woolly Mammoth's "Stunning") and musicals (Signature's "The Visit") have been birthed or helped along, and smart performances -- including those of Alexander Strain in "Caligula," Christopher Innvar and Charlayne Woodard in "The Taming of the Shrew," Virginia Kull and Delaney Williams in "A View From the Bridge" and Ed Gero in "Shining City" -- have been too numerous to be adequately spotlighted.
Naturally, it has also had its bumpy moments. (Note to "Glory Days": Sorry about the abbreviated trip to New York. You deserved better.) But the magnitude of risk-taking required of a maturing theater scene is inevitably going to produce a few disappointments. These, too, merit some remembrance.
So here, Washington Theater, 2007-08, is a highly subjective look back at several peaks and fewer valleys. In the interest of preserving some minute shred of dignity, I've declined to give these awards a name. If you're still put out by this effrontery, take comfort in the fact that there might be divine retribution, even for a theater critic: This was a season, after all, in which a green-gilled theatergoer tossed his cookies on yours truly.
Best acting ensemble
"August Wilson's 20th Century"
In the herd of D.C. theater festivals, the leader of the pack. The 10-play cycle (in staged readings) could have induced headaches. Instead, it produced glorious performances from Anthony Mackie, Michole Briana White, Glynn Turman and more than two dozen other actors.
Moment most likely
to set off the gag reflex
"David in Shadow and Light"