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Top Five of 2012: Theater 

click to enlarge James Craven as Harmond Wilks in 'Radio Golf' at the IRT. - LAUREN B. PHOTOGRAPHY.
  • James Craven as Harmond Wilks in 'Radio Golf' at the IRT.
  • Lauren B. Photography.

5. Eloise and Abelard, EclecticPond Theatre Company
A sweet comic farce, based on a 12th century heroic tale, staged modestly in the Historic Irvington Lodge. Eloise and Abelard pitted the goddess Venus against the Angel Gabriel in a bet about love and temptation. Director Sarah Neville skillfully walked the line between crude comedy and sardonic satire, poking fun at religion without desecrating it.

4. A Steady Rain, Acting Up Productions
Ace character actor Brian Noffke and the intuitive, sensitive Sam Fain knocked it out in this two-hander, a gritty noir examining police corruption and the disintegration between two partners on the beat. Fain and Noffke so completely inhabited their roles that I still remember my heart pounding through my chest at a tense, climactic moment.

3. IndyFringe Festival 2012
It would be impossible to recap Indy's year in theatre without a nod to the many diverse offerings of the week-plus-long IndyFringe Festival. The heartwarming, funny Night Creatures, by Prairie Ditch Productions, told the story of two grown nerds on the watch for creatures of the night. It benefitted from the obvious chemistry between two of the city's most talented, Robert Neal and Scot Greenwell. Not to be forgotten was Q Artistry's out-there production, Bot, in which Grecian myth met Dada. Impressive as always, Q managed to cram puppetry, music, dancing and more into an entertaining 50-minute production told entirely in the language of robots.

2. Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, Phoenix Theatre
This gory riff on Andrew Jackson's legacy opened the Phoenix Theatre's 30th season with a bang. The high energy cast gave audiences a quirky glimpse into early American history, with memorable songs, hilarious politcal satire and a pointed lesson on race relations, all in time for electoral season. Indy audiences can always rely on the Phoenix to keep its finger on the pulse of the world, usually with a sly wink.

1. Radio Golf, Indiana Repertory Theatre
Wilson's Radio Golf considers the African-American experience at a crossroads between what was and what will be. His dialogue is poetic; his narrative structure brilliant. Real estate developer Harmond Wilks is faced with tearing down a blighted Pittsburgh neighborhood to build a high-rise. Ultimately, he must decide between honoring his ancestors or embracing success as defined by capitalism. Wilson's artfully crafted conflict between personal identity and power leaves us with divergent senses of helplessness and hope. With cunning direction by Lou Bellamy, Wilson's work was brought to life by a stunning cast.

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