The Most Underrated Plays, Ranked

Choose the plays you think is the most underrated!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Updated on Jun 18, 2024 06:17
Often, the quieter voices in the theatrical world hold tales that resonate deeply but are overshadowed by the bright lights of well-known classics. These underrated plays carry unique perspectives and innovative storytelling that can profoundly impact both the seasoned theater-goer and the casual attendee. Highlighting these works not only broadens the theatrical landscape but also supports playwrights whose voices might otherwise go unheard. This space allows for a community-driven appreciation of such plays, providing a stage where lesser-known pieces receive the recognition they deserve. By participating in the voting process, enthusiasts contribute to a more inclusive and diverse theatrical environment. Each vote casts a spotlight on hidden gems, guiding more audiences to enriching experiences that might have been easily missed.

What Are the Most Underrated Plays?

  1. 1


    Another gem by Tom Stoppard, blending elements of science, history, and literature.
    • Premiere: 1993
    • Playwright: Tom Stoppard
  2. 2

    The Flick

    A play by Annie Baker about the lives of three movie theater employees.
    • Premiere: 2013
    • Playwright: Annie Baker
  3. 3

    In the Next Room (or The Vibrator Play)

    A comedy by Sarah Ruhl about the early history of the vibrator, used for treating 'hysteria'.
    • Premiere: 2009
    • Playwright: Sarah Ruhl
  4. 4

    The Pillowman

    A dark, disturbing play by Martin McDonagh about a writer in a totalitarian state.
    • Premiere: 2003
    • Playwright: Martin McDonagh
  5. 5

    The Real Thing

    A play by Tom Stoppard that explores the nature of honesty and reality versus appearance.
    • Premiere: 1982
    • Playwright: Tom Stoppard
  6. 6

    Top Girls

    Caryl Churchill's play about a woman named Marlene, a career-driven individual juxtaposed against historical female figures.
    • Premiere: 1982
    • Playwright: Caryl Churchill
  7. 7

    The Children

    Lucy Kirkwood's play that deals with the aftermath of a nuclear disaster, focusing on personal responsibility and the legacy we leave behind.
    • Premiere: 2016
    • Playwright: Lucy Kirkwood
  8. 8


    Sarah Ruhl's reimagining of the classic myth of Orpheus from the perspective of his wife, Eurydice.
    • Premiere: 2003
    • Playwright: Sarah Ruhl
  9. 9

    The Shape of Things

    A play by Neil LaBute that explores the nature of art, relationships, and personal identity.
    • Premiere: 2001
    • Playwright: Neil LaBute
  10. 10


    Lisa D'Amour's play that explores the shifting economic landscape of middle-class America.
    • Premiere: 2010
    • Playwright: Lisa D'Amour

Missing your favorite plays?

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About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most underrated plays. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or play is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 0 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each play once every 24 hours. The rank of each play is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

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More about the Most Underrated Plays

Rank #1 for the most underrated plays: Arcadia (Source)
Many plays go unnoticed despite their brilliance. These works often get overshadowed by more famous productions. Yet, they offer rich narratives, deep characters, and unique perspectives. Their lack of recognition does not reflect their quality. Instead, it often results from various factors.

One reason is the competition from well-known plays. Established works have a strong foothold in the theater world. They attract larger audiences and more media attention. This leaves little room for lesser-known plays to shine. Even if a play is exceptional, it struggles to gain the spotlight.

Another factor is the availability of resources. Popular plays usually have bigger budgets. They can afford better marketing, production values, and star actors. In contrast, underrated plays often operate on limited funds. This affects their ability to reach a wider audience. They might not have the same level of polish, but their stories remain compelling.

Theater critics also play a role. Reviews can make or break a production. A well-reviewed play gains traction quickly. However, not all plays receive the same level of critical attention. Some slip through the cracks, despite their merits. These plays might not get the praise they deserve, affecting their popularity.

Audience preferences influence the success of a play. Some themes and styles resonate more with the public. Plays that align with current trends often do better. Underrated plays might explore niche topics or unconventional formats. While this makes them unique, it also limits their appeal. They attract a smaller, more specific audience.

Theater festivals and awards can help bring attention to lesser-known plays. However, the selection process is competitive. Many deserving plays do not make the cut. This limits their exposure and potential for wider recognition. Despite this, some plays manage to leave a lasting impact on those who see them.

The digital age offers new opportunities for underrated plays. Online platforms allow for wider distribution. Playwrights can reach audiences beyond traditional theaters. This helps in gaining recognition and appreciation. Social media also plays a role. Word-of-mouth can boost the popularity of hidden gems. Fans can share their experiences and recommendations.

Underrated plays often tackle bold and innovative ideas. They push boundaries and challenge norms. This makes them important for the evolution of theater. They introduce fresh perspectives and new storytelling techniques. While they may not receive widespread acclaim, they contribute to the richness of the art form.

These plays also offer a more intimate experience. Smaller productions create a closer connection between actors and the audience. This enhances the emotional impact of the story. The rawness and authenticity of these performances often resonate deeply with viewers.

Supporting underrated plays enriches the theater landscape. It encourages diversity and innovation. Audiences gain access to a broader range of stories and voices. This fosters a more inclusive and dynamic theater community.

In conclusion, many plays deserve more recognition than they receive. Various factors contribute to their underrated status. Despite this, they offer valuable contributions to theater. They bring fresh ideas, deep emotions, and unique experiences. Supporting them helps keep the art form vibrant and evolving.

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