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Best Designer Houston 2001 - Steven K. Barnett, The Danube at Atomic Cafe

Steven K. Barnett's exquisite set built into the wide-open space at Atomic Cafe for Infernal Bridegroom's production of Maria Irene Fornes's The Danube was most charming for all its stunning detail. Painterly and delicate, the minimalist creation started with a stage Barnett built in the middle of the playing space from rough-hewn planks, framed at the corners with brown towering four-by-fours. Across the back wall hung a drop that looked like a wall-sized postcard from the Hungarian countryside where the strange avant-garde play takes place. Each time the scene changed, a wall-sized card was removed, revealing the one beneath it, as lovely and fantastical as the one before. These dreamscapes stood in stark relief to all the terrifying strangeness happening in the scenes. Poignant and beautiful, Barnett's carefully wrought set was simply magical.

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