Best Theater 2022 – The New York Times

Belgian collective FC Bergman’s show “300 el x 50 el x 30 el” was incredibly complicated: a camera on a circular track followed what was happening in every apartment of a small village carefully constructed on the stage of the Brooklyn Academy of Music was Harvey Theater. The highlight was at the end when the entire troupe jumped up and down in unison for what felt like an eternity. The longer it lasted, the more exciting it got. I still can’t quite understand why this happened, but maybe it’s this gratuitousness that makes the staging unforgettable. ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

If you see her as the Barbra Streisand-obsessed Rachel Berry in “Glee,” you wouldn’t really question that Lea Michele could sing the role of Fanny Brice in “Funny Girl,” the 1964 Streisand vehicle. She sang it constantly and well. You may have wondered what else she could do with her fabulous instrument; the role is not a cantata, but an emotional slalom that ended in failure for many before her. When Michele landed the role in September’s Broadway revival of Beanie Feldstein, she made it immediately clear that she’d learned enough about the purpose of singing (and life’s backlash) since her Rachel days to give the role a surprising dimension to lend . She didn’t just buckle, she had been buckled, and let’s hear it. JESSE GREEN

One of the most suspenseful scenes of the year only lasts a few seconds, but they feel like an agonizing eternity. In the Broadway production of Martyna Majok’s Cost of Living, Ani, a double amputee quadriplegic played by Katy Sullivan, relaxes in a bath. When her estranged husband-turned-caregiver goes into another room, Ani, left alone in the tub, becomes disoriented. Unable to find enough footing to lift herself out, she remains submerged, slowly drowning as the audience watches helplessly. Rarely has vulnerability been portrayed so economically and so heartbreakingly. ELISABETH VINCENTELLI

The roughly two dozen actors in the Broadway revival of “1776” come to the rehearsal room in sneakers, T-shirts and leggings. And then, at some cue, they simultaneously kick off their shoes, pull up their socks, and slip on an outer layer, suddenly adopting the pant-and-frock coat chic of members of the Continental Congress. Directed by Diane Paulus and Jeffrey L. Page, this preshow routine pulls off a magic trick of sorts. These actors have it all up their sleeves. Now you see her. This opening moment is also a provocation. What, she asks, would America look like now if these bodies—female, nonbinary, indigenous, of color—had birthed it? ALEXIS SOLOSKI

Corey Hawkins’ performance as Lincoln in Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog is so transformative that the actor is almost unrecognizable. Hawkins has aged and looks shabby, trying hard for luck. For so much of the finely-tuned play, Lincoln is the underdog, and Hawkins gives the character the kind of knowing talk and looks you’d expect from an older brother still figuring out his own life. Hawkins seamlessly transitions from light-hearted banter to heart-wrenching banter, deftly laying the emotional foundation leading up to the play’s grand third act. MAYA PHILLIPS

Alone in a one-room apartment, a man builds a stage out of milk crates and cardboard. He’s the designer, the playwright, the director, the star. “Take care of me,” the man demands. “Watch me now.” And in the opening moments of Suzan-Lori Park’s brilliant, blistering “Topdog/Underdog,” how could one person do anything else? Yahya Abdul-Mateen II opens the show as Booth, a man who teaches himself the three-card Monte Hustle. His hands falter; his understanding of the swindle is incomplete. But he’s an expert at deceiving himself, and if he rattled off his babble with such longing and flair, everyone would fall for his evasive maneuvers. ALEXIS SOLOSKI

Lars Eidinger’s performance in “Hamlet” at BAM was so imaginatively wacky that it felt like a highlight. My favorite moment didn’t look written down – the German actor is known for flying off on improvised limbs – but actually wasn’t. Without warning, Eidinger dropped forward, without attempting to stop moving, and planted his face in a pile of damp earth. Then he just lay there. The move was fully committed to elementary slapstick and yet it also carried all the sadness and helplessness of this world: What else could Hamlet do? ELISABETH VINCENTELLI Best Theater 2022 – The New York Times

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