Best visiting theater shows | 2011 in review

  • Photograph: Eric Y. Exit

    en route

  • Photograph: Manuel Harlan

    Black Watch

  • Photograph: Liz Lauren

    Being Harold Pinter

  • Photograph: Doug Blemker

    The Doyle and Debbie Show

  • Photograph: Ave Bonar


Photograph: Eric Y. Exit

en route

For our annual picks of the year's best theater, our rule of thumb is to consider only Chicago-born productions. Otherwise, some of these enthralling experiences brought to us by out-of-town guests might well have made it in to the mix.

en route, one step at a time like this: This astonishing walking tour of downtown spaces public and private, created by Australian artists one step at a time like this at the invitation of Chicago Shakespeare Theater, transformed the way we saw the city and the way we thought of theater.

Black Watch, National Theatre of Scotland: Finally making its Chicago bow at the Broadway Armory (also at the behest of Chicago Shakespeare Theater), this thrillingly theatrical requiem for the Scottish regiment lived up to the hype.

Being Harold Pinter, Belarus Free Theatre: The circumstances of the company's hastily planned Chicago stint certainly colored the way we experienced their art. But this was political theater, after all, and this striking staging of excerpts of Pinter's plays and his Nobel-acceptance speech was haunting indeed.

The Doyle and Debbie Show: This hilarious Nashville import turned the Royal George's cabaret theatre into a honky-tonk for a spot-on spoof of old-school country music tropes.

Ann: Emmy-winning actor Holland Taylor's loving portrait of the late Texas governor Ann Richards could use some script trimming before its planned Broadway bow, but her precise, impassioned performance was a sight to behold.

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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)