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The 10 Most Anticipated Theater Shows This Fall

Larry Yando, Deanna Dunagan, and Jerod Haynes star in some of the best shows to see in Chicago this fall.

Larry Yando in King Lear, Deanna Dunagan in Death Tax, Jerod Haynes in Native Son   Photos: (King Lear) Jeff Sciortino; (Death Tax) Sean Williams; (Native Son) Joe Mazza

1 King Lear

Shakespeare’s doomed king is the Mount Everest of male roles, and Larry Yando is fully capable of scaling it. The story of the legendary monarch brought to madness (and nakedness) remains one of the Bard’s greats. And what’s better than a great actor in a brilliant play? Through November 9. Chicago Shakespeare Theater. $48–$78. chicagoshakes.com

2 Native Son

The seminal exploration of race, discrimination, and the criminal justice system seems more relevant than ever. Director Seret Scott presents local playwright Nambi E. Kelley’s new adaptation of Richard Wright’s 1940 novel. The commanding Jerod Haynes stars. Through October 12. Court Theatre. $45–$65. courttheatre.org

3 Death Tax

In the Midwestern premiere of Lucas Hnath’s sinister but hilarious examination of family dynamics, Deanna Dunagan plays an ailing mother who believes her daughter is scheming to kill her before a new inheritance tax takes effect. Through October 12. Lookingglass Theatre. $20–$65. lookingglasstheatre.org

“It’s a darkly funny, serious script that plays almost like a thriller.” —Deanna Dunagan

4 My Name Is Asher Lev

Director Kimberly Senior leads the charge in this adaptation of Chaim Potok’s story of a Hasidic Jewish painter struggling to reconcile art with religion. Alex Weisman, a Northwestern graduate and rising talent, stars. Through October 18. TimeLine Theatre Company at Stage 773. $37–$50. timelinetheatre.com

“I usually play funny, clown-like roles, and Asher is very dark. It requires a vulnerability that doesn’t come naturally to me.”— Alex Weisman

5 The World of Extreme Happiness

Sunny, a paradoxically named waif, moves from rural China to Shenzhen at 14 to find work in a factory. If you haven’t already seen Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig’s funny, provocative take on China’s shifting economy, now’s the time. Eric Ting directs. Through October 12. Goodman Theatre. $10–$40. goodmantheatre.org

6 Forgotten Future: The Education Project

Based on more than 100 interviews with students and teachers, this new work by Sarah Moeller, Adam Seidel, and Michele Stine is an unblinking examination of Chicago Public Schools. Through October 26. Collaboraction at the Flat Iron Arts Building. $15–$30. collaboraction.org

7 Airline Highway

Playwright Lisa D’Amour checks into a crumbling hotel in a beat-down section of New Orleans where a clutch of working girls, scam artists, and street philosophers join forces for a local burlesque queen’s funeral. Think Balm in Gilead with a hefty dose of va-va-voom. December 4 to February 8. Steppenwolf Theatre. $20–$86. steppenwolf.org

8 The Cryptogram

Joe Jahraus directs a 20th-anniversary production of David Mamet’s profane and brilliant tale about a troubled marriage and the effect it has on a young boy. September 26 to November 16. Profiles Theatre. $35–$40. profilestheatre.org

“Mamet’s language is mesmerizing as he explores that exact moment of losing childhood innocence and discovering the frightening complexities of the adult world.” —Joe Jahraus

9 Issac’s Eye

Another Midwestern premiere for Lucas Hnath (see No. 3), this quirky send-up of stuffy historical dramas riffs on the trials of a young Isaac Newton. The forceful Jürgen Hooper stars. Through December 7. Writers Theatre at Books on Vernon. $35–$75. writerstheatre.org

10 The Testament of Mary

Victory Gardens’ founding artistic director Dennis Zacek returns to direct Linda Reiter in Colm Tóibín’s tale of the last days of Jesus as seen through his mother’s eyes. November 14 to December 14. Victory Gardens Theater. $30–$60. victorygardens.org

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