Best Actor (2004)
David Rainey in Topdog/Underdog Suzan-Lori Parks's Pulitzer Prize-winning Topdog/Underdog revolves around two brothers who bear the unlikely names of Lincoln and Booth: their father's "idea of a joke." But the names carry hefty metaphorical weight in this play about violent sibling rivalry. And the play's interfamily feud burned especially bright when actor David Rainey stepped on stage in the Alley Theatre's production of the dark drama last winter. Rainey's Lincoln was the most richly textured character of the year. One minute, Rainey's character would brag big-time about his success -- playing an Abe Lincoln who gets assassinated all day long in an arcade exhibit. But the next, he'd fall into a spiral of self-disapproval. Raging against a world that held him down, Rainey's performance was subtle yet forceful and astonishingly empathetic. He filled the stage with an unwavering intellectual and emotional intensity that no other Houston actor could touch this past year.