(Michael Feingold's article appeared 12/22 in the Village Voice.)

The Decade's Best Theater

From undervalued plays and underfunded companies, 10 years of freewheeling joy

I hate 10-best lists, and this column won't include one. Trying to list everything that was great in the New York theater over the past decade, and then sweating to squeeze a mingy string of 10 items from it, would be futile as well as exhausting. Of course our theater touched on greatness between 2000 and 2009; otherwise people would have given up on it long before. Just as obviously, it lapsed, often, into the mediocre, the third-rate, and the sheerly miserable: Every great city's theater does that in every decade. One way we measure greatness is by its distance from the dismal points below.

The greatest thing to happen in New York theater, this past decade, was foreign, unrecapturable, and only here on brief visits to Brooklyn. Sweden's Royal Dramatic Theatre (Dramaten) sent three last productions by Ingmar Bergman to BAM: Strindberg's Ghost Sonata, Schiller's Mary Stuart, and Bergman's own adaptation of Ibsen's Ghosts—all lightning-bolt lessons in directing, in acting, in clarity of conception and cogency of image. Even the luckiest theatergoer gets few such occasions in a lifetime.

(Read more)


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