Best Of 2005

BEST PLAY: The Chairs, Stageworks and Gorilla Theatre

“The theme of the play,” said Ionesco of The Chairs, “is nothingness.” And in one important regard he was certainly right. The Chairs is about the nothingness of the theater: of the impossible act of communicating past the footlights, and the impossibility of having the audience communicate back. An Old Man and Old Woman welcome a crowd to a performance; but the crowd is made up of imaginary figures, and the Orator who finally speaks can only mumble gibberish and write nonsense. As directed by Anna Brennen on R. T. Williams’ cubist-inspired set, Richard Coppinger, Midge Mamatas and Adam Belvo were nothing short of brilliant. This was difficult theater, intellectual and uncompromising, taking a postmodern stance to the very end of its logic. Nothing on Tampa Bay stages last year was anywhere near as provocative. - Mark E. Leib