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Best Play 

The Cripple of Inishmaan

The American Heartland Theatre twice knocked us out over the past year, first with the dark Affluenza! and then with the surprisingly not-godawful Tuesdays With Morrie. The Unicorn dazzled consistently, and the remarkable Voysey Inheritance at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre seemed a lock for the year's best show. But then came the upstarts. For its first production, the Kansas City Actors Theater dug deep into Martin McDonagh's stinging Cripple of Inishmaan and came up with 2005's biggest surprise: a raucous, heartfelt show in which each laugh masked real pain, and each pain -- until that brilliant, poisonous ending -- somehow led back to laughter. Exquisitely funny were Gary Holcombe and Kathleen Warfel; as the titular "cripple," David Jones never made a show out of being knotted-up. He just was, dreaming but not complaining, and that made him unforgettable. This December, the KCAT kicks off its first real season. If it's half as good as Cripple, we'll see it back here next year.

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