By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
9. Lawrence & Holloman at Second Thought Theatre was wonderfully strange. Flashbacks of images from director Marianne Galloway's production still hiccup into the cerebral cortex now and then. The absurdist two-character play by Canadian Lawrence Panych depicts the friendship between two co-workers—one a chirpy optimist, the other a bitter loser—that goes upside down when one man begins to steal the life of the other. In Second Thought's version, it unfolded like an episode of The Office written by Samuel Beckett. Dallas actors Ian Leson and Chad Gowan Spear were dandy foils for each other. The final view of a naked Leson in a white bathtub was shocking, creepy and...oh, God, maybe the right prescription will make it go away.
10. Luann Hampton Laverty Oberlander at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas was a nicely pitched revival of one-third of Preston Jones' "Texas Trilogy." Actors Sue Loncar, Nye Cooper, Catherine DuBord, Morgana Shaw, Beau Trujillo, Ashley Wood and Kevin Moore made audiences believe in the fictional West Texas town of Bradleyville. Slumped on a barstool, swigging a beer, Loncar's almost-40 Luann was every jaded small-town beauty who grew up to find heartache instead of fame and glory. Later this year CTD will explore another play in Jones' trilogy with a production of The Oldest Living Graduate featuring some of the same cast as Luann.
11. Shadowlands at Contemporary Theatre of Dallas starred James Crawford as Irish author C.S. Lewis and Diane Worman as his American wife, Joy Gresham. William Nicholson's play wove a special kind of magic as it chronicled Lewis' unlikely late-in-life romance with the dying Joy. Such a tearjerker this was, CTD provided a box of tissue at every seat. This was another directing achievement for Marianne Galloway, who seems to do better work hired out to other companies than she does for her own Risk Theatre Initiative.
12. Driving Miss Daisy, performed only at matinees by the new One Thirty Productions at the Bath House Cultural Center, was an end-of-year surprise. Alfred Uhry's three-hander about the deep friendship between elderly Daisy and Hoke, her black chauffeur—with Miss Daisy's son Boolie onstage as a go-between—spans 20 years across mid-century Atlanta. Could be corny stuff (even the movie goes soft too soon), but it was elegantly performed with a light touch on comedy elements by actors Doris Gramm and Mathew Greer, who first played Daisy and Hoke together at the Granbury Opera House in 1999. Michael Corolla gave just enough bluster to Boolie. One Thirty hopes to revive the play with the same cast in the same space sometime this year.