In alphabetical order, here are the top theatrical productions seen in Los Angeles this year, where despite Actors Equity demanding a higher pay structure that will decimate many smaller theatres, the work goes on, not so much for the profit of the artists but for the profit of the audience.
Baby Doll (Fountain Theatre)
No one in theatre gets Tennessee Williams like director Simon Levy and this adaptation by Pierre Laville and Emily Mann captures the dark humor and desperation of his characters with perfect, creepy aplomb.
Barbecue (Geffen Playhouse)
Robert O'Hara's outrageous comedy explodes African-American stereotypes and enjoys a consistently pulling out of the rug under our expectations about time and racial identity.
Bumpersticker: The Musical (Asylum Theatre/Hollywood Fringe)
Gary Stockdale and Spencer Green created the book and lyrics to a musical that cleverly takes bumpersticker slogans and turns them into music of virtually every imaginable genre, from the outlandish to the heartbreaking.
Church and State (Skylight Theatre)
Jason Odell Williams's powerful indictment of American political rhetoric and violence is a reminder of the need for change in perilous times. Rob Nagle is totally engrossing as a politician who lets his conscience win out over pragmatism, to tragic effect.
Edward Albee's The Play About the Baby (Road Theatre Company)
The loss of the great Edward Albee this past year is commemorated by the production of this dark and constantly shifting play, about two couples and the enigmatic disappearance of a baby, led by the unredoubtable work of actor and artistic director Sam Anderson.
A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder (Ahmanson Theatre/Center Theatre Group)
A killer of a musical, with brilliant book and lyrics by Robert L. Freedman and music and lyrics by Steven Lutvak. Darko Tresnjak directs the many performers and technical elements with an expert comedic touch.
Icebergs (Geffen Playhouse)
Alena Smith wonderfully skewers the peculiarities of Southern Californians in her play, with some unexpected, deeply moving revelations by the one character who is not from La La Land.
In Case of Emergency (Chalk Repertory Theatre)
An immersive project, performed at numerous locations, by Ruth McKee who sets her play in a garage and has the audience sit in the driveway, as an emergency preparation consultant freaks out during an L.A. earthquake and tests the limits of two warring sisters.
Vicuña (Kirk Douglas Theatre/Center Theatre Group)
Just in time for President Electored Trump, Jon Robin Baitz portrays an egotistical, corrosive politician who is willing to stoke fires of hate to get elected, and thinks a "power suit" will make all the difference.
Waiting for Grace (Odyssey Theatre Ensemble)
Sharon Sharth wrote and stars in this comedy that explores the psychology of a woman who cannot find a proper mate, done with sweetness and more depth than one normally gets from this genre of play.