Best Actor: Lauren Erica Jackson

Lauren Erica Jackson lodged herself in our memory the moment she appeared brandishing a machine gun in Single Carrot Theatre’s “Phoebe in Winter.” Playwright Jen Silverman’s absurdist dissection of the childish macho energy that oversees war, family, and revolutions often threatened to drift into the pointlessly surreal, but Jackson’s performance as the titular Phoebe provided a steely rudder to the play’s at times cartoonish solipsism. Phoebe’s brothers were killed by Americans in one of many conflicts, and it would be too easy to make this character an avenging angel who invades the play’s American home, but in Jackson’s hands the young woman becomes more complicated and interesting. She captured Phoebe’s threatening power, but she also imbued this young woman with a defiant vulnerability and patient emotional intelligence. We can’t recall seeing Jackson before or since, but with this one role she seared herself into the brain.

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