The 2015 Tony Award for Best Play could go in one of four very different directions. From a gripping historical drama that is actually two plays performed in repertory to a modern adaptation of a New York Times bestselling novel, the four plays in this category couldn’t be more different. The one thing that ties them all together is the sheer strength of the work of the many people that put these shows up. It’s very difficult to call this race early, as any of these could easily take home the award, but here are the four brilliant new plays up for the coveted Best Play for the 2015 Tony Awards.
“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time”
One of the most anticipated plays of the new season, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” is based on the international bestselling novel of the same title by Mark Haddon. The story is told from the point of view of 15-year-old Christopher, who describes himself as “a mathematician with some behavioral difficulties.” It’s never specifically stated, but the lead character’s condition is often referred to as Asperger Syndrome or high-functioning autism. Christopher ends up as the main suspect for the death of his neighbor’s dog, however, determined to prove his innocence, he sets out to solve the mystery himself. The design of this play is nothing short of spectacular, featuring a set that attempts to go into the mind of the extraordinary child. When “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time” premiered in London’s West End, it ran to sold-out houses every night and was one of the most successful shows in London in 2012.
“Disgraced” is a very timely and provocative new play that tells the story of a Muslim-American and his artist wife who both live a comfortable life in New York City. The play deals with a polite dinner conversation between the couple and their dinner guests that goes awry when personal, political and religious views are challenged. “Disgraced” by Ayad Akhtar was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2013 and has already premiered in London before it was staged here in the United States. This is the only Tony nomination for “Disgraced,” but with the brilliant, raw and compelling writing of Ayad Akhtar, it could very possibly be the show to take home the Tony for Best Play in 2015.
“Hand to God”
Robert Askins’ “Hand to God” is a powerful new play that deals with the subjects of faith and morality and just how fragile those beliefs can be when challenged. The story centers on a young student named Jason, who lives in a small and devoutly religious town in Texas. Jason’s relationships are all challenged when his hand puppet, Tyrone, takes on his own dangerous personality. It’s a fascinating play that seems to have come from the author’s own life as, according to the New York Times, his mother ran a Christian puppet ministry in Texas. This play has been nominated for five Tony Awards, including both male and female leading roles, and has been workshopped since 2011 before making the big leap to Broadway this year. This compelling new work has been receiving rave reviews and is definitely a strong contender for the award this year.
“Wolf Hall Parts One & Two”
This is one of the rare times that two plays, performed in repertory, have been nominated together in the Best Play category. “Wolf Hall” is a period drama that takes place in England in 1527 during the court of Henry VIII. The first part deals with Henry’s anger over the lack of a male heir and his attraction to the famous Anne Boleyn. Henry is married, however, and the Pope refuses to allow him an annulment, until Thomas Cromwell steps in to try and win Henry’s favor by helping him to win the hand of Anne Boleyn. The second part takes place after Anne Boleyn has married Henry and Cromwell has been named his chief adviser. However, when Boleyn also is unable to provide a male heir, Henry then turns his eyes on a new woman, Jane Seymore. This is not the first time that these characters have appeared on stage, and several fictionalized plays have existed based on their stories. However, the pair of plays together makes for a captivating evening of performance, and the nomination of the two shows is certainly an exciting addition to the Best Play category.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.