Best Production, Best Director

Inexpressible Island, Dallas Theatre Center; Preston Lane, Director

The entire 20th century was brought under microscopic scrutiny in this North American premiere courtesy of the Dallas Theater Center and director Preston Lane, who made a revelatory debut as a main-season captain after he had previously worked at the perennial task of resweetening DTC's hard-candy fave A Christmas Carol. We've grown so accustomed to the computer-created special effects provided by weather-driven disaster flicks like A Perfect Storm that we forget their major dramatic thrust is entrapment, forced intimacy, unlikely alliances, major decisions made in stressfully minor allotments of time--in other words, the métier of theatrical tension. Inexpressible Island was the fictionalized true account of a group of British explorers in 1912 sailing to the South Pole. They didn't reach their goal, but were instead sequestered for months inside a carved-out ice cave, bickering over raisins and seal fat and the English proprieties that were a clumsy fit inside this icy hell. The ruling officers attempted to keep order through various disciplinary mind games and the academic lectures of a comrade too learned on contemporary art and history and literature for everyone's good. The men are driven almost to mutiny by the impudent disordering of faith and logic and traditional narrative of which he earnestly speaks. With screeching winds, a slick and steep stage level, and a backdrop of crazily kaleidoscopic night stars, Inexpressible Island kept everyone--actors and audience--unsteady and unsettled. Sadly, after making such a strong mainstage directorial impression, Lane is heading to North Carolina in 2001 to open his own theater.

 
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