The 10 Best Plays I Saw in Metro Phoenix in 2012

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As I write this, the year isn't over. But I can say that, once again in 2012, I didn't see a whole lot more than 10 plays I enjoyed so super-much I had to debate internally about putting them on this list. On the other hand, the ones that were good were really outstanding (so that it was nearly impossible to assign an order to them), two of them were from the Phoenix Fringe Festival, which I'm ecstatic about, and all this happened in a year when there were a lot of plays honoring Arizona's centennial, which I'm just going to say didn't help.

If you feel like killing some time reading out-of-date theater criticism, each entry's heading contains a link to the original Curtains review. Happy Holidays, friends!

10. Actors Theatre's Hunter Gatherers
If Ron May had more free time, I'd consider hiring him to direct my life. That's how confident you should be about going to a show he's helmed. The convincingly weird couples at the epic, dysfunctional yet oddly jubilant dinner party in this play were beautifully acted, and the action was violent, sexy, and compelling.

9. Orange Theatre Group's hair & fingernails at phx:FRINGE
Having a genuinely experimental theater headquartered in town makes me so glad I could plotz. This performance, in the upstairs jazz studio at Phoenix Center for the Arts, used video cameras, microphones, and computer manipulation and projection of the resulting stimuli to enhance a troubling and bizarre solo performance.

8. iTheatre Collaborative's Gruesome Playground Injuries
Some of playwright Rajiv Joseph's conventions for this story of two friends -- who simultaneously attract and repel like magnets of crazy -- work wonders, and some don't. But a top-notch cast and thoughtful staging and direction made it a haunting and thought-provoking evening.

7. Arizona Theatre Company's Daddy Long Legs
It's awesome enough when great literature you're familiar with becomes an entertaining stage adaptation, but when a delightful play shines a spotlight on a neglected work of fiction, it's even more fun. This musical has captivated fans of musicals without ever having a big, spectacular Broadway run, and the composer's Jane Austen's Emma is something to look forward to in coming weeks from ATC.

6. Dark Porch Theatre's TUTOR: enter the exclave, also at phx:FRINGE
This San Francisco company stole one of Phoenix's favorite young actors, Brandon M. Wiley, and cast him alongside some of the strongest performers I've ever encountered anywhere at any ticket price. That and the fucking weird story made it a show to remember.

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