The 10 Best Broadway Plays of the Decade
Find out which shows we think will be the ones that live on forever.
More than 100 new plays opened on Broadway over the past 10 years, and we've spent the past few weeks looking back on them all to come up with our favorites of the decade. The voting among our eight editorial staff members got a little contentious at times, but in the end, we were able to come up with a list that pleased us all. Here is our decade-end 10-best list, presented in alphabetical order to avoid any more infighting.
1. Choir Boy (2019)
Playwright and Oscar winner Tarell Alvin McCraney made his long-awaited Broadway debut with this musical drama from 2013 about a queer black man's struggle to stay true to himself at his Catholic prep school. The play's the thing, but so was Trip Cullman's production, which boasted chill-inducing gospel numbers and choreography (by Jason Michael Webb and Camille A. Brown, respectively), and a monumental Broadway debut from star Jeremy Pope.
2. Clybourne Park (2012)
A follow-up to Lorraine Hansberry's seminal drama A Raisin in the Sun, Bruce Norris's darkly comic Tony and Pulitzer Prize winner Clybourne Park is a scathing look at race, gentrification, marriage, and class consciousness in America circa 1959 and 2009. It's a sharp, stinging satire, and one that's probably even more relevant now than when it premiered almost a decade ago at Playwrights Horizons.
3. Disgraced (2014)
Ayad Akhtar's brilliant Pulitzer Prize winner follows a well-to-do Pakistani-American corporate lawyer who is forced to consider why he's tried so hard to hide his Muslim heritage. As a drama, it's filled with fireworks (and a climactic scene you'll never forget). As a debate about politics and culture, it made for some of the most intelligent theater Broadway had seen in a long time.
4. The Ferryman (2018)
Jez Butterworth's The Ferryman was like magic: It quietly lured you in for over three hours and then snapped you back into a harsh reality in its final moments. Boasting a cast of two dozen, including a real baby and actual livestock, Sam Mendes's production went for extreme realism and cut you at the jugular. What a great night of theater.
5. The Humans (2016)
An undercurrent of dread runs through Stephen Karam's The Humans, which follows a close-knit family's Thanksgiving dinner as their lives unravel around them. Hilarious and terrifying all at the same time, The Humans was a play that haunted audiences for a variety of reasons, and led longtime theater vets Reed Birney and Jayne Houdyshell to their first Tony Awards as a pair of beleaguered middle-class parents struggling to stay afloat in an uncertain world.
6. Indecent (2017)
Exploring the history of the controversial Yiddish play God of Vengeance, playwright Paula Vogel and director Rebecca Taichman mixed poetry and stage magic to create an unforgettable theatrical experience about love, loss, redemption, the immigrant experience, and Judaism. It got deep under your skin from the first moments and brought you to tears by the gorgeous final tableau. It's a play that won't easily be forgotten.
7. The Inheritance (2019)
Matthew Lopez's epic two-part drama about gay life in the post-AIDS era reminds us that we'll never actually be post-AIDS. A loose adaptation of E.M. Forster's Howards End, The Inheritance illuminates the human experience in new ways through crackling dialogue, tear-jerking moments, and an exciting production helmed by Stephen Daldry.
8. Slave Play (2019)
Jeremy O. Harris made a doozy of a Broadway debut with this gripping drama about race, gender, sex, and the effects that oppression have on the body. Harris challenges his audience to look at these things differently, and as a result, Slave Play inspires the kinds of conversations that many people are too afraid to have. It helps people see the world in a new light — if they're open to it, of course — and the fact that something this daring is on Broadway is an added bonus.
9. Sweat (2017)
Lynn Nottage won her history-making second Pulitzer Prize for this meticulously researched response to the American economic crisis and the collapse of the middle class. It may have been set in the early 2000s, but it felt especially prescient in post-election 2017, when cultural and socioeconomic divisions loomed large over a conflicted country.
10. What the Constitution Means to Me (2019)
Heidi Schreck's What the Constitution Means to Me explores the ways the US Constitution allows for the mistreatment of women and their bodies. The play, which is about to head on tour, is life affirming, hyperspecific, and one of the most important theatrical examples of political protest to come out of the twenty-teens.