1. Reborning (Fountain Theatre)
Zayd Dohrn begins his play with a strange peek into a little-known world, that of making realistic baby dolls. Simon Levy expertly directs an amazing trio: Joanna Strapp as the doll-maker, with a horrific past, Ryan Doucette as the boyfriend who thinks she's weird, despite his making sex toys for a living and Kristin Carey as the woman who orders the doll made, for tragic personal reasons of her own.
2. Switzerland (Geffen Playhouse)
Australian playwright Joanna Murray-Smith again strikes theatrical gold, this time with her version of the last days of combative, tortured suspense writer Patricia Highsmith, captured with great fire by Laura Linney. Seth Numrich plays a New York publishing character who seems to be demanding Highsmith's latest book from her Swiss home but Murray-Smith's play, directed by Mark Brokaw with aplomb, calls into question reality in a most fascinating manner.
3. L'Espace du Temps (Ford Theatres/Valley Performing Arts Center)
The Diavolo/Architecture in Motion dance collective creates a mesmerizing trio of works, featuring "Foreign Bodies" by Esa-Pekka Salonen, "Fearful Symmetries" by John Adams and "Fluid Infinities" by Philip Glass. Add the inversions and other transformations of onstage structures provided by Diavolo Artistic Director Jacques Heim's staff and you have an amazing evening.
4. Sons of the Prophet (The Blank Theatre)
A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, Stephen Karam's Sons of the Prophet is unpredictable in its pursuit of two Lebanese brothers in Pennsylvania, one gay, one straight, both decimated by the death of their father after a prank by a small town sports hero. Michael Matthews directs with great sensitivity and smoothness.
5. A Permanent Image (Rogue Machine Theatre)
Samuel D. Hunter's gritty yet bleakly amusing work features an estranged brother and sister visiting a mother who is unnervingly blasé about the news of her dead husband. Mark Taylor, Anne Gee Byrd, Ned Mochel and Tracie Lockwood work together excellently and a final video projection is breathtakingly powerful.
6. Uncle Vanya (Antaeus Theatre Company)
Annie Baker's adaptation of Chekhov is double cast by Antaeus and beautifully performed, with Robin Larsen's assured direction capturing the brave hopelessness of these classic characters, supported by live music.
7. Outside Mulingar (Geffen Playhouse)
John Patrick Shanley's visit to his relatives in Ireland resulted in this story of family squabbles and love afraid to speak its name. Randall Arney works wonders directing his four actors, who amuse and break our hearts with their dark humor and sad fatalism.
8. The Other Place (The Road Theatre on Magnolia) Sam Anderson and Taylor Gilbert are lovely to behold in this gripping drama of a former biophysicist turned pharmaceutical saleswoman whose mental capacities are besieged by illness. Sharr White's powerful writing is guided with a sure hand by Andre Barron.
9. Citizen: An American Lyric (Fountain Theatre)
Claudia Rankine's National Book Award winning poetic rumination on racial inequality and the subtleties of language is terrifically adapted by Stephen Sachs, for a cast of six. The richness of Rankine's words are met by the inventive staging and raw emotions of the performers.
10. Trevor (Circle X Theatre/Atwater Village Theatre)
Laurie Metcalf's expertise with both comedy and drama is on display in Nick Jones's quirky but ingeniously conceived play about a woman who cannot give up her pet monkey, despite its destructive natural impulses. Jimmi Simpson is also a delight as a primate who can talk directly to the audience and make it believable.