.Marin’s 2023 Top Torn Tix

As a reviewer, it’s important to forgo opinions in favor of informed critique. But theater, like all art forms, has an almost indescribable essence and vitality which can get lost in rationale and review.

As lovers of the art form, at the end of each year we leave the cynical aside and reflect on the shows that stood out to us. Here are five shows in 2023 that I found the most memorable.

The Addams Family – Novato Theater Company – There are few things more satisfying than watching people do something about which they are passionate. This tight company brought so much enthusiasm to the play that their joy turned a weak script into an absolutely delightful

production.

Odyssey – Marin Theater Company – This production was simply sublime. I can count on one hand the number of plays that have wrapped me up so completely as an audience member that I forgot I was watching a play. There have only been four in almost four decades of theater. This show could have been performed in a school cafeteria at lunchtime, and the raw power of the cast would still have held the audience silently spellbound.

24 Nights (two productions of Twelfth Night) – Marin Shakespeare Company, Two Gents Theater Company When it comes to Shakespeare, there are two hills on which I am willing to die: Shakespeare should be done outside, and it should be free. While Marin Shakespeare’s production was not free, it was far and away the best in terms of production value and cohesive storytelling.

While Two Gents may have lagged behind Marin Shakes in production quality and cohesiveness, they did the one thing that should always be commended—by not charging for admission, the company opened the experience up to the community.

American theater is getting more expensive and thus more exclusionary every year. Any company willing to take on the financial burden to make it accessible to everyone should be recognized and supported (hint-hint).

Where Do We Sit on the Bus? – Marin Theater Company – This play could make the list on its title alone. As a mixed-race Latina, this question has always haunted me. And to see someone else not only ask it but experience the same sort of confusion it causes is at the core of why representation matters.

When the titular question is answered by an authority figure with “you weren’t there,” the skin tone difference between the audience members who laughed and those who gasped showed the level of dialogue still needed to teach the very different realities of the global majority versus the American dominant culture. On top of the politics, it was also a damn good show.

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