The world premiere of Catherine Trieschmann's play at South Coast Repertory drew more attention for putting the battle between creationism and evolution in public schools under the dramaturgical lens. But, while filled with some juicily packaged polemics about the rather warped views of anti-science Middle America, How the World Began was about things personal as much as political. An Ivy League-educated teacher seeks to rebuild her life in a small Kansas town that's trying to rebuild after a devastating tornado. Characters reeling from trauma converge, and through an apparently innocuous remark in a science class, a firestorm sweeps across the town. The play ultimately becomes not so much about politics, but rather the importance of tolerance.

Honorable mention goes to the Maverick Theater's The Legend of Robin Hood; Nathan Makaryk's innovative retelling captured the men-in-tights style of the legendary tale, but was as much a metaphor on contemporary America as a classic fable.

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