Top 10 plays and theatre productions of 2013

2013 was a banner year for things made in Singapore, be they films, books or theatre.

Seven homegrown theatre productions have made it into the top 10. Two of these are by Pangdemonium Productions, which has been building a devoted following for their solid programming which combines smart scripts with stellar acting. 

Take a look at the full list below.

1. Musashi by the Ninagawa Company (Japan)

This joyful tale of forgiveness and redemption was a masterpiece in ambition and scope, a remarkably fleet-footed samurai comedy that fed us lessons of gentle wisdom in-between the laughter. Legendary Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa pulled together this delightful tapestry of styles and forms expertly.

2. Shun-kin by Complicite (United Kingdom)A dark tale comes to light in the hands of British director Simon McBurney, in an exquisitely precise work that pulls open the shadowy, sensual underbelly of love. One of its most magical moments, one that should not even be possible to stage: when a human being transforms into a bunraku puppet.

3. Twelve Angry Men by Nine Years Theatre (Singapore)Singapore director Nelson Chia gives a masterclass in ensemble direction with this work, taking a dusty courtroom drama and transforming it into a gripping and well-paced expose of the dark corners of the human soul and the judiciary system we have come to rely on.

4. Rabbit Hole by Pangdemonium Productions (Singapore)There was not a dry eye to be found in this tender, bruising play about one family's determination to come to terms with a great loss, a production that gleaned layered performances, both subtle and powerful, from its actors.

5. The Book Of Living & Dying by The Finger Players (Singapore)This beautiful revival of this work prompted me to reverse my initial reservations about the piece, an ambitious work that wrestles with the larger arcs of life and death, coupled with stunning visuals and puppetry work.

6. The Suit by Theatre Des Bouffes Du Nord (UK/France)This spare, intimate tale about a couple's crumbling marriage and one woman's shattered dreams in apartheid South Africa tugs at the heartstrings, especially in the wake of Nelson Mandela's death.

7. Illogic by Cake Theatrical Productions (Singapore)Natalie Hennedige's valentine to the theatre deconstructs love and creation, in a chaotic, explosive exploration of life and art - and the hazy boundaries in between.

8. Next To Normal by Pangdemonium Productions (Singapore)Another success for Pangdemonium - this heart-pumping, soul-stirring musical does not pull the punches on mental illness and its effect on both the sufferer and caregiver.

9. Dreamplay: Asian Boys Vol. 1 by Wild Rice (Singapore)A revival of Alfian Sa'at's exploration of Singapore's gay history, Dreamplay is equal parts joyous, gleefully campy and heartbreaking, celebrating an ostracised community that is finally coming in from the margins.

10. For Better Or For Worse by Checkpoint Theatre (Singapore)Emerging playwright Faith Ng brings a profound maturity to the stage in this achingly honest portrayal of a decades-long marriage in Singapore.