At the San Diego Rep’s opening night, artistic director Sam Woodhouse announced that David Ives’ thought-provoking sex comedy, Venus in Fur, is 2013’s most-produced play. Including the Rep’s top notch effort, there have been 22 productions across the country.
First question: there are 22 actors who can handle the quadruple-skill role of Vanda? - who can play extreme contemporary and extreme Victorian styles – and flit from one to the other like a spinning coin?
Second question: what are the year’s other most produced plays, and how many have we seen? Is San Diego theater ahead of the curve, or behind the eight-ball?
The list, compiled every year by the Theatre Communications Group (TCG), comes from American Theatre Magazine’s October issue, which omits holiday-themed shows “for obvious reasons.”
1.) Venus in Fur (22 productions): at the Rep.
2.) Clybourne Park (16): Bruce Norris’ sequel to Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun. Staged at the Rep, January-February 2013.
3.) Good People (14): David Lindsay-Abaire’s comedy-drama about a woman from Boston’s hard-nosed South Side asking spiffy Chesnut Hill Mike for a job. Old Globe, October, 2012.
4.) Other Desert Cities (13): Jon Robin Baitz’s heavily allegorical drama about a wealthy Palm Springs family. Old Globe, July, 2013 (am still seeing Alexander Dodge’s spacious, glass-house set).
5.) The Mountaintop (13): Katori Hall’s drama about the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King. San Diego Rep, March, 2013.
6.) 4000 Miles (12): a comedy-drama, by Amy Herzog, about a 21-year old grieving male who moves in with his grandmother. Not produced locally.
7.) Tribes (12): Tina Raine’s drama about a deaf man in a “hearing” family that treats him like a housepet. La Jolla Playhouse, June-July, 2013.
8.) Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike (11): Christopher Durang’s farce, with characters named from Chekhov’s, won the Tony Award for Best Play of 2013. Coming to the Old Globe next May.
9.) The Cat in the Hat (8): Katie Mitchell’s adaptation from Dr. Seuss, unproduced locally.
10.) Detroit (7): Lisa D’Amour begins her Obie Award Winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist by saying it may or may not be set in Detroit. She’s just not sure. Nor are her characters. Coming to the San Diego Rep, February, 2014.
11.) God of Carnage (7): The Old Globe staged Yasmina Reza’s Tony Award-winner about two sets of parents dropping all masks of civility July to September, 2012.
12.) Red (7): John Logan’s two-hander about the artist Mark Rothko comes to the San Diego Rep next March.
13.) The Whipping Man (7): Matthew Lopez’s drama about a Jewish Confederate soldier in the final days of the Civil War had its San Diego premiere at the Old Globe, May-June, 2010.
So how’d we do? Eight out of ten and three pending.
That didn’t surprise me. What did: I expected more Cats in the Hat — just commercial fare — and not a line-up that kicks and twists and dares to venture forth.
All of the plays are well-written (a surprise?) and — a sign of these economic times — most have small casts and can be staged in intimate spaces.