7. Collected StoriesMost theater folk are familiar with Donald Margulies’ much praised two-hander about the tension that grows when a writing student outshines her teacher by “borrowing” from the mentor’s personal memories. The beauty in MagnaCarta Theater Company’s revival lay in exquisite performances by Jayne Taini and Karen Zumsteg, complemented by the lovingly detailed production design.
8. Happy EndConsidered source material for Guys and Dolls, Brecht’s musical, staged by Dan Bonnell for Pacific Resident Theater, knew exactly when to wink and when to stop — sustaining for two hours a whimsy that never slid into flippancy.
9. Radio GolfAugust Wilson clearly left us in his prime. Of his Pittsburgh Cycle of plays, this was his most probing look into real estate as an emblem of the American social divide, and the contortions we undergo to rationalize that divide. A lovely production at the Mark Taper Forum.
10. Pera PalasSinan Ünel’s epic has three generations of westerners trying to fathom the mysteries of the East in and around an Istanbul hotel. A sparkling production by Michael Michetti for Theater @ Boston Court.
11. The Wild PartyJohn LaChiusa and George C. Wolfe’s Algonquin-era musical about waiting for the end of the world, pre-Crash, may have been written before 9/11, but this year it sure seemed to tap the prevailing Zeitgeist. Daniel Henning’s staging for his Blank Theater Company starred Daisy Eagan, Jane Lanier and Valarie Pettiford in a splendidly acted and choreographed reflection of civilization crumbling under the weight of martinis and predatory indulgences.