The best of theater in 2023

The best of theater in 2023

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It’s always more enjoyable to cheer the best than to chastise the worst. So here, with the 2023 laurels, is the countdown of my choices for the choicest theater experiences of the past 12 months.

10. ‘Jaja’s African Hair Braiding’

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The sweet spot play of 2023. Jocelyn Bioh, author of such sparkling comedies as “Schoolgirls, or the African Mean Girls Play” and “Nollywood Dreams,” locates her new — and funniest — work in a hair-braiding salon in upper Manhattan, where the fur flies along with the hair extensions. “Jaja’s African Hair Braiding” spends a hot day in summer 2019 in the entertainingly bustling salon of Jaja (Somi Kakoma), a West African immigrant who fills the place with comically contentious weavers and customers. Director Whitney White shepherds a cast featuring Dominique Thorne, Zenzi Williams and Brittany Adebumola through all the delightful, uh, head-to-head dust-ups. Nikiya Mathis merits a special shout-out: She’s “Jaja’s” hair and wig designer.

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