Monday, December 24, 2018

The Best of 2018: The Best Plays I Saw

In 2018, I saw 40 plays.

This doesn't include musicals, operas, ballets, sketch comedy, improv, etc.

Presented by 22 different local troupes in a wide variety of venues, some of these works were world premieres, some were age-old classics, many were somewhere in-between.

There were shows with vast casts, and several others with a single performer.

And many of the performances were fantastic, from Hollywood stars--Michael Shannon, Stacy Keach, Richard Thomas--many Chicagoland actors I've long seen and several I never had before.

A large number of the works were quite good, with all of the top 11 below earning @@@@@ or @@@@1/2 (out of 5) on my ratings scale--and the others cited at least @@@@. 

My #1 pick is still running for a few more weeks, and though it is a non-traditional play--with no spoken dialogue--it is completely magical.

As always, my exact rankings--and ratings of any play--are an inexact science, so great admiration is bestowed on all productions making my list, and many more that didn't.
The Best Plays I Saw in 2018
All were in the Chicago area. New/recent works are denoted with an *.

1. The Steadfast Tin Soldier* - Lookingglass Theatre
conceived and directed by Mary Zimmerman
(my review)

2. Liberty City - Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre
written by April Yvette Thompson; directed by Jonathan Wilson
(my review)

3. Pamplona* - Goodman Theatre
written by Jim McGrath; directed by Robert Falls
(my review)

4. All My Sons - Court Theatre 
written by Arthur Miller; directed by Charles Newell
5. Downstate* - Steppenwolf Theatre
written by Bruce Norris; directed by Pam McKinnon
(my review)

6. A Home on the Lake* - Piven Theatre and Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre
written by Stephen Fedo & Tim Rhoze; directed by Tim Rhoze
Liberty City at Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre
(my review)

7. A Shayna Maidel - TimeLine Theatre 
written by Barbara Lebow; directed by Vanessa Stalling
(my review)

8. Until the Flood - Goodman Theatre
written by Dael Orlandersmith; directed by Neel Keeler
(my review)

9. Linda - Steep Theatre
written by Penelope Skinner; directed by Robin Witt
(my review)

10. An Enemy of the People - Goodman Theatre
written by Henrik Ibsen; adapted & directed by Robert Falls
(my review)

11. The Gentleman Caller* - Raven Theatre 
written by Philip Dawkins; directed by Cody Estle
(my review)

Honorable Mention

Curve of Departure* - Northlight Theatre
written by Rachel Bonds; directed by BJ Jones
(my review)

The Play That Goes Wrong - National Tour / Broadway in Chicago
written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields; directed by Matt DiCarlo
(my review)

Indecent - Victory Gardens Theatre
written by Paula Vogel; directed by Gary Griffin
(my review)

Victims of Duty - House Theatre
written by Eugène Ionesco; directed by Shira Piven
(my review)

The Humans- National Tour / Broadway in Chicago
written by Stephen Karam; directed by Joe Mantello
(my review)

The Lonesome West - Aston Rep Theatre
written by Martin McDonagh; directed by Dana Anderson
(my review)

Vietgone - Writers Theatre
written by Qui Nguyen; directed by Lavina Jadhwani
(my review)

Lady in Denmark - Goodman Theatre
written by Dael Orlandersmith; directed by Chay Yew
(my review)

A Moon for the Misbegotten - Writers Theatre
written by Eugene O'Neill; directed by William Brown
(my review)

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years - Goodman Theatre
written by Emily Mann; directed by Chuck Smith
(my review)

-- If re-posting list or highlighting selections, please attribute to: Seth Arkin on

No comments: