How It Works

The Quick & the Dirty:

The six basic types of polyhedral dice: d4 = Red, d6 = Blue, d8 = White, d10 = Black, d12 = Green, d20 = Yellow

We roll dice to randomly determine which shows we will review.  Once one of our reviewers has seen the show, they post a full review.  The reviewer also gives each show a rating on a scale that is based on gaming dice values (d4 – d20: lowest to highest).  Finally, we try to sum up the experience of each show in a Ten-Word Summary, which can be handy for those with short attention spans and those who want to Tweet a mini review to their friends.

The Long and the Short of it:

Many years ago Theatre By Numbers came up with a clever way to ensure that we don’t show favoritism to any given show when selecting what to review.  We roll dice on charts to determine what plays to see.  Every show had an equal chance to be seen.  No favors to friends.  No making sure to only see the top selling shows.  Equal weight given to the small storefront theaters and the big touring houses.  It’s a system that we’ve found to be very fair and very fun.

The writing staff are Sarah Bowden, Maggie Wagner, and Rachel Simon.  Each week the dice are rolled, compared with a chart that lists 20 shows currently running or opening in Chicago, and then the writers head out to see some theatre.  Some is good.  Some is bad.  All of it is thoughtfully related to our readers and rated in our own characteristic way.

Each week, we publish the chart that we used to find our shows, so that you might also have the chance to roll the dice on a night of Chicago theatre.  It’s an exhilarating way to make up one’s mind.  And a method that often takes you where you might not otherwise go.  The best part: the randomness normally results in us seeing far more great shows than stinkers!