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Best Large Theater Company 

Aurora Theatre Company

There's some stiff competition in this category, with the larger Berkeley Rep and Cal Shakes doing some excellent work, but after a couple years of so-so scripts, Aurora's now finishing up a particularly strong season, especially when it comes to casting. The didactic elements of Gore Vidal's The Best Man and George Packer's Betrayed were outweighed by terrific performances, and now Bob Glaudini's generally pleasing rom-com Jack Goes Boating is made effervescent by Joy Carlin's lively staging and some phenomenal acting. Add to that some particularly solid work with hundred-year-old fare, between Barbara Oliver's savvy production of Shaw's The Devil's Disciple and Mark Jackson's spellbinding staging of the problematic Strindberg classic Miss Julie, and the season that closes this week merits a hearty round of applause. Next season promises to be chock-full of highly literate social commentary, starting in August with Clifford Odets' Depression drama Awake and Sing!, then tackling the much more recent fare of Neil Labute's 2004 Fat Pig, the Joel Drake Johnson world premiere The First Grade, and Stephen Karam's 2007 comedy Speech & Debate, plus a new version of Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman. Consider our appetites whet for the feast to come.

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