You rarely come across a genuine original, especially a truly original performance, but Jessica Austgen is one: sort of pouty, very precise in movement and speech, capable of both absolute gooniness and breathy seduction. I've never seen anything like her lean, mustached Sir Andrew Aguecheek in the Theatre Group's Twelfth Night. But she wins best comic actress for her remarkable melding of innocence, befuddlement, certainty and circuitry as the robot-woman Jacie Triplethree.


In Love's Labor's Lost, Don Adriano de Armado is almost always played purely as a buffoon, and an endlessly talkative one at that. So, like many of Shakespeare's extravagantly comic characters with their time-bound puns and word games, he tends to be more annoying than amusing. But in this production, John Hutton created something altogether different, a man who may be ridiculous, but who's also vulnerable, surprising and sometimes -- in an odd way -- downright clever. It's an interpretation that adds freshness and dimension to a venerable play.


Unlike most actresses who play Olivia, Jadelynn Stahl has no time for the character's usual posing and passivity. Instead, her Olivia is a luscious, black-haired beauty with a melodious voice and a gift for farce who seizes life by the scruff of the neck and shakes it till she gets the love and happiness she craves.


When you've got either Baierlein or his wife, Sallie Diamond, on stage, you've got fine theater. Put them together as Bill and Betty, the hospitable couple in Greek Treats, and the result is an evening of pure pleasure. Entranced by their mythical off-stage friends, Jason and Medea, Bill and Betty rebel against their boring suburban life. Bill dreams of Dionsyian sex, Betty of an all-woman commune where she could unleash her creative impulses. Theirs is the kind of quietly skilled acting that doesn't advertise itself, but you can see the flame of passion shining through Bill and Betty's conventional exteriors.


John Sloan played the romantic, caustic, moody Berowne in Love's Labor's Lost with energy, wit, youthful exuberance and a genuine understanding of the language. His performance confirmed the expectation raised last year by his irrepressible Mairtin in A Skull in Connemara that this was an actor to watch.


As Collected Stories begins, a worshipful young writer comes to a famed and brilliant older author for advice. As the play progresses, the novice matures into a poised young comer, a surrogate daughter to and ultimate betrayer of her mentor. Heather Nicolson brought charm, vitality and intelligence to the role, along with an increasingly evident steely backbone.
Many a bold-faced name have given performances in Eve Ensler's original Off-Broadway hit, but it was Margot Kidder who brought it to life in Denver. She gave one of the wildest, most raucous and also most generous-spirited performances ever to grace an area stage, giving new meaning to the phrase "pulling out all the stops."


In her first appearance as Professor E.M. Ashford, Susan D'Autremont was appropriately chilly and forbidding. But she brought an almost radiant kindness to her second appearance, at the bedside of her protegé Vivian Bearing, finally calling on Shakespeare's "flights of angels" to see the dying woman to her rest.


For Wit, Terry Dodd coaxed nuance and passion from a play that -- though it reliably reduces audiences to tears -- has always struck us as thin and smug. Her production created a connection to a deep and ancient sea of inner sadness that even Emma Thompson and HBO couldn't accomplish. We found a grace and truth here that we hadn't previously sensed, and the result was genuinely moving.


I'd venture to guess that no one, but no one, would attend a production of Titus Andronicus except under duress, but this version is inviting and howlingly funny. Five actors played all of the roles, the set was a cunningly fitted-out van in the middle of an empty space, the death score was kept on a chalkboard, and songs and dances punctuated the murderous action. This was a clever, inventive and definitive production.


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