For a hint, catch the show's one-night-only remounting at Berkeley Rep's Roda Stage on Jan. 8, 2009.
•<\!s><0x0007>Billy Connelly Live! at Post Street Theater
The secret of success in theater remains elusive, but clearly one cheerfully roguish, foul-mouthed Scot is sometimes all it takes. (Check that I'd also had a couple of pints.)
•<\!s><0x0007>Blade to the Heat at Thick House
Thick Description was doing more than just resting on its laurels when it devoted its anniversary season to remounting past successes, often with the original principals.
•<\!s>Survivors: In the arts and in this economy staying power itself counts as a triumph. Three milestone anniversaries this year: Thick Description at 20 years; the Exit Theatre, 25 years; and Traveling Jewish Theater, 30 years.
•<\!s><0x0007>Bone to Pick at Exit on Taylor
The Cutting Ball Theater and Magic Theater/Z Space New Works Initiative commissioned this fresh surprise, a clever and powerful reworking of the Ariadne myth by local playwright Eugenie Chan a standout in Cutting Ball's program of short avant-garde works.
•<\!s><0x0007>Bug at SF Playhouse
A great ensemble made the most of this weird and gritty tale by Tracy Letts, who won the Pulitzer this year for his latest, August: Osage County, due for a Bay Area bow in 2009.
•<\!s><0x0007>Curse of the Starving Class at American Conservatory Theater
Director Peter DuBois' anniversary revival of Sam Shepard's play was fairly terrific throughout, and included two outstanding female turns: Pamela Reed (the play's original Emma), returning brilliantly three decades later to play the mother, Ella, and Nicole Lowrance, wonderfully filling Reed's old shoes as the unstoppable firecracker of a daughter.
•<\!s><0x0007>Two by August Wilson: Fences at Lorraine Hansberry and Joe Turner's Come and Gone at Berkeley Rep.
•<\!s><0x0007>Two Conor McFirsts: Irish playwright Conor McPherson received a pair of strong local premieres this year, both showcasing exceptional performances. The Seafarer at Marin Theatre Company and Shining City at SF Playhouse. There were no slouches in Amy Glazer's production for SF Playhouse, but as the grief-haunted husband, Paul Whitworth's persuasive performance was more startling than any phantom.
•<\!s><0x0007>Work Eats Home by Sleepwalkers Theater at Phoenix Theater.