This year has been a tremendous year for plays. I’ll list my top “ten” plays that I’ve seen in Chicago, New York, and London. These are the plays that I’ve judged as an “A” play on my unofficial list. Enjoy!
In chronological order of seeing them:
- Waiting for Godot, Court Theater
- Godot is one of my favorite plays and the one I’ve seen the most. This is the fourth production I’ve seen! Court Theater did an incredible job of putting this one with an all African American cast.
- Othello, Backroom Shakespeare
- The whole idea of Backroom Shakespeare is that the actors have practiced once or so and they perform the entire play in a bar. No real costumes, no stage, minimal props. This production of Othello was simply incredible. They managed to convey so much with so little. And live music is always a plus in my book. Not often you get to watch a character die on the table your sitting at.
- Sense and Sensibility, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
- Several years ago, I had read the book and didn’t care for it. However, this musical version of the play managed to move me. I actually cared about what happened to the characters. So that’s quite an achievement in my book! The singing was great. Period pieces are always fun to watch too.
- An American in Paris, Palace Theater (NY)
- I don’t love many musicals but this ballet/musical set in post-war Paris was stunning. The story isn’t exactly special but the dancing made up for it.
- Sleep No More, Punchdrunk (NY)
- This had to be one of the best things I saw all year. I talked about it at length in this post. To sum it up, imagine a haunted house that you can explore and there is a play (Macbeth) going on. That’s the experience.
- Fun Home, Circle in the Square (NY)
- What a heartfelt play about the main character coming to terms with her sexuality while trying to make sense of her father’s spiral downward. It totally deserved the Tony it won (yes, even over An American in Paris).
- Chicago Contemporary Circus Festival
- There were so many productions that came to the festival that were magnificent. Casus, Tossed and Found, Suhde, The Girlie Show, Pedal Punk, and The Submarine Show were all incredible. We are so lucky that we had this festival to bring these incredible groups to Chicago.
- Moby Dick, Lookingglass Theater
- I think this is the best play I’ve seen at the Lookingglass. They manage to combine circus and play so seamlessly. You can read my review here.
- Richard II, Globe Theater (UK)
- Richard II is one of my favorite plays, which still surprises me since he is not a very good king. But the speeches about England and land get me every time! This was the third production and it did not disappoint. Plus it was at the Globe where we were groundlings. We’d totally do it again. Only 5 pound tickets!
- The Tempest, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
- This was my other favorite play of the year. It combined Shakespeare, Teller’s magic, and the music of Tom Waits. It was like the universe decided to make a play just for me. I have never loved the Tempest but this play made me a believer.
- Ride the Cyclone, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
- Chicago Shakespeare has had a good year. Ride the Cyclone is about 6 teenagers who have a tragic accident on a roller coaster and explore their lives in death. Funny, sad, hilarious, and strange all at the same time.
- My Soul’s Shadow, Manual Cinema
- I love Manuel Cinema, a theater company that uses shadow puppets, live actors, and more to tell stories. This was a piece about Frederico Garcia Lorca in conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival. This time we had a room to explore before the show began. There were ringing phones that you could pick up to hear poetry in Spanish and English. There were drawers to open to find mysterious and amazing objects. Poems were projected onto walls. The performance was magnificent: a kind of Garcia Lorca in Wonderland. I hope they do it again.
That’s all for now!