Best Of 2008

BEST SET DESIGNER: Scott Cooper

Anthony Shaffer’s Sleuth isn’t exactly realistic, but it’s not fantastical either: The play offers a conceivable confrontation between two gamesters, both of whom want the same woman, and both of whom are capable of almost incredible hi-jinks in her pursuit. And that’s precisely the sort of set that Scott Cooper gave us at American Stage: a manor house interior that was lovingly detailed while still looking like something out of an addled Disney movie. There was a sweeping staircase that was a mite too sweeping, overlarge windows that suggested ease of access for a lothario/burglar, and, most deceptively, a full-size painting of the wife in question — who never, in fact, appeared in the play. This was connotative set design, suggesting great wealth and great silliness all at the same time. And it was perfect for a play that was stylish and ultra-literate and a bit silly.