In the course of a year, there are well over 100 plays to be seen in and around Halifax. They run the gamut from works taking their first baby steps into the world to big-budget extravaganzas. What I find interesting when I compile this annual list of favourites is that the plays I remember are not always the most slickly produced. It’s the ones that make me gasp, laugh, shed a tear and set my mind a-thinkin’ that make the grade for me.
12. A Man for all Seasons (Theatre Arts Guild): There were some outstanding shows from the community theatre crowd this year (Bedford Players’ Calendar Girls and Dartmouth Players’ Count Dracula were definitely memorable), but TAG’s minimalistic take on Robert Bolt’s classic was an elegant winner.
11. Roaring Girl (Vile Passéist): An original take on a 17th century comedy with original music and a feminist bent? Yes please!
10. The God That Comes (2b theatre): Delightfully debauched and musically mesmerizing, this re-imagined Greek myth perfectly showcased Hawksley Workman’s prodigious talent.
9. A Little Night Music (Halifax Summer Opera Workshop and Festival): A bawdy tale of sexual frustration and confusing relationships filled with brilliant performances and striking costumes.
8. Refuge (Eastern Front Theatre): This play shone a light on some unpalatable truths about Canada’s immigration system with a powerful mix of verbatim theatre and engaging drama. A moving, memorable story, well told.
7. The Iliad (Two Planks and a Passion): The fire crackled and so did Homer’s tale of Troy when brought to life by a wonderful adaptation in a gorgeous outdoor setting.
6. RED and Legally Blonde (Neptune Theatre): Definitely an incongruous tie: one a dialogue-heavy exploration of the soul of an artist, the other a full-tilt musical with a perfectly perky protagonist. RED told its story in subtle shades and Legally Blonde painted it in neon pink.
5. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (SBTS and Misery Loves (Theatre) Company): A effective mix of wit and horror that chilled and thrilled.
4. Ghosts (LunaSea): Staging this play The Local Council House for Women was a stroke of genius. The claustrophobic world of Ibsen’s tortured heroine came to life and drew the audience in.
3. Under Milkwood (Off The Leash): This beautifully acted, directed and designed show artfully brought Dylan Thomas’ words to life.
2. Diligent River Daughter (Ship’s Company Theatre): A tale rooted in rural Nova Scotia, this play nestles a beautiful story of a plucky young woman within huge historical events like World War l and the Halifax explosion. Epic and intimate.
1. Uncle Oscar’s Experiment (Zuppa Theatre Co.): Quirky, brilliant and gorgeous, this 10th anniversary remount showcased exactly why Zuppa has made an enduring name for itself on the Halifax theatre scene.