Curtain Call

The best theater and dance of 2013.

Willamette Week, December 24, 2013

Theater and dance don’t obey the calendar year: Companies usually run their seasons September to May and then take the summer off (lucky bastards). But all the other critics get to spend December playing favorites, and we wanted in on the fun. Here are our picks for the best shows of 2013.


1. Invasion! (Badass Theatre Company)

Badass Theatre Company’s inaugural production boasted the year’s most surprising moment, a scene that screwed with audience expectations while spurring genuine panic. But that’s not the only reason it tops this list. Invasion! is a wondrous shapeshifter: It zings from lowbrow comedy to raw emotion, all the while excavating issues of national, ethnic and religious identity, and Badass’ quartet of actors absolutely devoured it. John San Nicolas deserves special mention for a torrential monologue that left him—and us—gasping for air.

2. The Aliens (Third Rail Repertory Theatre)

San Nicolas wasn’t the only actor delivering crazy monologues in 2013. Isaac Lamb had one that consisted of a single word: “ladder,” which he repeated over and over and over again, in a manner hypnotic, horrifying and heartrending. This haunting production was light years ahead of other companies’ bumbling, uninventive attempts at naturalistic theater.

3. Something’s Got Ahold of My Heart (Hand2Mouth Theatre)

This sucker punch of a show made me want to dance and cry. An original non-narrative work exploring love at all its stages, it harnessed performers’ ingenuity to exuberant and poignant effect.

4. Our Town (Liminal Performance Group)

Upending all notions of Our Town as sentimental schlock, Liminal staged a deeply unusual production of the classic play, featuring imaginative touches such as closed-circuit video and a metronome ticking at various speeds. Kudos to Liminal for challenging audiences while proving that “avant-garde” needn’t be synonymous with “awful.”

Runners-up: The Huntsmen (Portland Playhouse), The Lover (Imago Theatre), Clybourne Park (Portland Center Stage). REBECCA JACOBSON.