People behaved cruelly on area stages this year, and they weren’t all Nazis. Boston Playwrights’ Theatre presented the world premiere of Leslie Epstein’s adaptation of his novel The King of the Jews, with Will Lyman a brooding power in the title role and Jon Lipsky at the helm. Diego Arciniegas directed a fluid chamber staging of J.T. Rogers’s powder keg White People, interwoven monologues by three Caucasians that limn the racism endemic in American society. At SpeakEasy Stage Company, in Paul Melone’s stylish staging of Neil LaBute’s black-comic fable Fat Pig, the nastiness was directed, with considerable acuity, at an obese woman with the audacity to have a boyfriend.
Blood and guts
No one has more guts than David J. Miller, who is artistic director of Zeitgeist Stage Company in his spare time. This year Zeitgeist teamed with Way Theatre Artists on Robert Schenkkan’s Pulitzer-winning, two-part, seven-hour The Kentucky Cycle, a blood-soaked romp through 300 years of Appalachian history, in a vivid chamber staging that brought a human scale to Schenkkan’s bluegrass Henriad. And just before he took to the screen, Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street dropped in at the Colonial Theatre, bringing buckets o’ blood and an ingenious, pared-down staging by Britisher John Doyle in which 10 singers/actors are also the band. Sondheim and Judy Kaye on tuba — what more could you want?
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