Sarah’s Picks: Top 5 Shows of 2019


Show: “The Great Leap”

Company: Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Venue: The Upstairs Theatre (1650 N Halsted)

DICE RATING: d20 — “One of the Best”

TEN WORD SUMMARY: Basketball means cultural clashes and introspection in this thrilling drama.

Lauren Yee’s dynamic script accompanies performances that hustle and jostle the audience, as a story of cross-cultural interaction grows into a full-blown tragedy … or a redemption story, depending on how you look at it. The light design and movement work created a world full of basketball players who wanted so much more than one last free-throw.


Show: “Best for Winter, being a short Shakespeare adapted from The Winter’s Tale and other works”

Company: Idle Muse Theatre Company

Venue: The Edge Theater Off-Broadway (1133 W Catalpa Ave)

DICE RATING: d12 – “Heckuva Good Show”

TEN WORD SUMMARY: The impossible is given its due in an elegant production.

These past few seasons, every company has been programming “Measure For Measure.” What they should have been staging is “The Winter’s Tale,” adapted here with poetry from Shakespeare’s other works, resulting in a rollicking and thoughtful good time. The bear puppet was fantastical, and it made a group of young girls in my audience jump up at intermission and imitate its growl. The adaptation’s messages about tyranny and allowing dictators to turn you into yes people are well worth remembering at the end of 2019.


Show: “The Effect”

Company: Strawdog Theatre Company

Venue: Strawdog Theatre Company (1802 W Berenice Ave)

DICE RATING: d12 — “Heckuva Good Show”

TEN WORD SUMMARY: Experiment in how romance forms, with alarming questions at play.

Strawdog’s sexy and startling examination of how medication shapes us, or how we shape ourselves around medication. Superb acting together with Lucy Prebble’s inquisitive, longing script made for a wonderful time spent examining my own prejudices and beliefs about what it means to identity as a person with a neurodiverse brain.


Show: “P.Y.G. or The Mis-Edumacation of Dorian Belle”

Company: Jackalope Theatre Company

Venue: The Broadway Armory (5917 N Broadway)

DICE RATING: d20 — “One Of The Best”

TEN WORD SUMMARY: Rap, reality, and absurdity combine in this electric comedy-drama.

A wonderful, scathing look at the commodification of entertainment and the ways white artists steal from African American artists. Lili-Anne Brown’s energetic staging felt just right in a production that featured not only MTV-style confessionals, but real direct address to the audience, as well as fake TV commercials that melded so strongly with reality, you left the production unsure what was or wasn’t a joke.


Show: “Women Of 4G”

Company: Babes With Blades Theatre Company

Venue: The Factory Theater (1623 Howard St)

DICE RATING: d10 — “Worth Going To”

TEN WORD SUMMARY: What if Agatha Christie, but it happened in outer space?

Imagine Agatha Christie in space, and you have “Women of 4G.” A collection of crew debates alerting the authorities that their lone male member, the captain, has been murdered, and must confront abandoning their mission and their potential ability to save Earth. This production was a crackerjack mixing of genres, and had a lot of sly heart.