1. RED (Everyman Theatre) Bruce Nelson and Eric Berryman are revelatory as Mark Rothko and his assistant, respectively, in John Logan’s play, which deals more seriously with visual art than most visual artists. Donald Hicken’s direction was superb and especially brilliant in staging the “fourth wall” as the paintings Rothko is working on, for the Four Seasons hotel, turning the audience itself into the paintings. (Baynard Woods)

2. The VIP (Single Carrot Theatre) For these eyes, no local original production emotionally rewarded the big risks it took more than playwright/director Aldo Pantoja’s fever-dream take on an embassy hostage situation in Lima, Peru, in 1996. Pantoja’s treatment piled history onto politics, memory onto religion, and filtered all of it through songs and the terrifyingly human anxieties of love, belonging, and fear. A powerhouse. (Bret McCabe)

3. The Glass Menagerie (Everyman Theatre) Just when we felt confident we never needed to see another iteration of this Tennessee Williams classic, the Everyman Theatre mounted a production that forced us to reconsider everything we thought we knew about the three members of the Wingfield family. Thanks to terrific performances by Deborah Hazlett as Amanda, Clinton Brandhagen as Tom, and Sophie Hinderberger as Laura, the mother didn’t seem as crazy nor the children as blameless. (Geoffrey Himes)

4. Murdercastle (Baltimore Rock Opera Society) With this frequently stunning exposé of H. H. Holmes, who became “America’s first serial killer” following the 27 homicides he was convicted of in late 19th-century Chicago, BROS matured into a dramatic company to reckon with. The ambition bar for any local theater group has done been raised. (BM)

5. Play (Acme Corporation) The twisted minds over at Acme Corporation took Samuel Beckett’s 10-minute Play and performed it in four different configurations (who would have thought that Beckett could be English dinner-party-farce?) and then repeated them—for 12 hours one weekend and 24 the next. It sounds like a nightmare, but instead it was absolutely exquisite, sinking the viewer and the actors into a lovely trance state together. (BW)

6. The Caretaker (Performance Workshop Theatre) The fine production of this Harold Pinter fable offered an unsettling variation on the theme of “no good deed goes unpunished” as Aston (Michael Salconi) brought home a disheveled homeless man (Marc Horwitz) to spend the night. The guest not only refused to leave but complained about the accommodations, and the nuanced acting kept our allegiances shifting back and forth. (GH)

7. Dance of the Holy Ghosts (Center Stage) Marcus Gardley is a relatively obscure young playwright, but this Baltimore premiere at Center Stage revealed an important new American play built around the simultaneously magnetic and repellent figure of Oscar Clifton (Michael Genet). An Oakland blues singer from Louisiana, Oscar loved his estranged wife and his grandson so much that he drove them crazy—and he had much the same effect on us. (GH)

8. Medea (Mobtown Players) Director Melissa O’Brien’s rendering of Euripides’ most tragic heroine as a starlet in the Golden Age of Hollywood could have turned out hokey. Instead, O’Brien’s direction found the perfect vehicle in Rachel Rash’s silent-movie elegance and superb acting. The conceit even allowed for a super little silent movie, “A Flock of Sorrows,” within the play. (BW)

9. Two Suns over Thebes (Annex Theater) We first fell in love with Alex Hacker’s writing in last year’s This Bird’s Flown. Two Suns over Thebes took those writing chops and applied them to translating Euripides’ Bacchae. Bolstered by a spectacular chorus and music from Dan Deacon and Matmos, Two Suns captured the Dionysian spirit of tragedy. (BW)

10. St. Nicholas (Performance Workshop Theatre) This one-man show was an unlikely success, given the unappealing personality of its protagonist—an adulterous, pompous alcoholic drama critic in Dublin—and an unlikely plot digression involving vampires. But the witty, self-lacerating script by Conor McPherson and the remarkable performance by Performance Workshop Theatre mainstay Marc Horwitz drew us in and wouldn’t let go. (GH)

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