Since we haven’t been following the New York theatre scene for years and years, we’d rather not pontificate about how 2005 was overall for the art. Thinking about it now, it seems like it was pretty great, but that might just be our affectionate, soft-focus hindsight, plus we’re just crazy about theatre in general. And even though we see way more of it than most people we know, nytheatre.com’s season archives quickly reminded us that we made it to a mere fraction of what was on offer, so there’s no pretending we saw “the” best performance. But of what we did go to, here’s what stands out as the year finishes (in no real order except for saving the best for last).
First, special mention for best non-Fringe festival: Brits off Broadway (including Unsuspecting Susan, which we quite enjoyed), with its unusually high ratio of winners to snorers
Favorite Fringe Festival show: Movie Geek, which was moving, hilarious, and one of the most professional entries in the Fringe
-- Pastoralia, which managed to translate a George Saunders story onto stage (something we weren’t initially sure was possible or should even be attempted), and did it with panache
-- The Pillowman, which featured jaw-dropping performances that brought Martin McDonagh's most excellent blood-curdling story to life
-- Scapin, which was a wonderfully lively bit of Moliere fluff, just right for being outside in the park (not to mention it was free)
-- Abigail’s Party, which is still on http://www.thenewgroup.org/season1.htm, so you can and should catch the deliciously over-the-top acting by a cast led by Jennifer Jason Leigh
-- And our favorite of the year, All Wear Bowlers, which had two runs and deserves another, because Geoff Sobelle and Trey Lyford’s wildly imaginative and gleefully performed neo-vaudeville show was a sheer delight to watch.
Tomorrow, look for our 2006 combined wish list and preview.
Above, newspaper sketch of 19th century SoHo theatre Niblo's Garden.