Jeremy Menekseoglu and Dream Theatre have been upending audience expectations for more than a decade with original works, including dark adaptations of “Peter Pan” and “Winnie the Pooh.” This year, Menekseoglu tackled the Bard for the first time, re-gendering the lead in “Hamlet” and creating a tough female lead in “Amleth.” Near the end, the villainous Gertrude imprisons Amleth (played by Anna Menekseoglu) in a dank dungeon patrolled by rat-worshipping nuns (pretty much like in the original, right?) along with two caged live rats (named Rosencrantz and Guildenstern). Amleth smears pea soup on her face and releases the rats (played by, well, live rats), cradling them and feigning insanity. No rats were harmed in the making of this scene: in fact, “Their favorite snack is pea soup,” says Anna.
Dream Theatre, 556 West 18th, (773)552-8616, dreamtheatrecompany.com
Best of Chicago 2013