Best Theater We Never Write About Orange County 2013 - UC Irvine Drama Department
You could choose OC's newest theater company, the Alchemy Theater Co., but it has only done one show to date, so give us time. Instead, what about the UC Irvine Drama Department? Its shows usually last only a couple of weekends, so getting a review in these space-constrained times is problematic at best. But the arsenal of undergrad and graduate talent, plus a ridiculously well-rounded and smarty-pants faculty (Robert Cohen, who founded the department in 1965, is STILL there as a professor) elevates all its productions—whether experimental drama or antique classics or contemporary pieces—well above the norm. Two new theater companies, helmed by UCI professors but semi-autonomous, have also come out of the department recently: the New Swan Shakespeare Festival, with an emphasis on the Bard and American musicals in an intimate, moveable space, and the Counter-Balance Theater, charged with highly physical productions based on great literature.