Recommended by David Hansen

  • The Volunteer
    14 Apr. 2018
    The play begins as a "thought experiment" inspired by an op-ed piece which posed a simple question; what if the President had to murder someone with their bare hands in order to retrieve codes to launch a nuclear strike? Playwright Rose has a knack for witty dialogue, but she also knows how to make a strong, convincing argument. At first presentational and satiric, the narrative deftly morphs into an affecting drama with real-world parallels and consequences, at once mythic and intimate. I love plays like this.
  • Calling Puerto Rico
    13 Apr. 2018
    Remember when an historic natural disaster struck the United States and the American President did absolutely nothing? You would think that would be a national outrage.

    One of the best ways, sometimes to only way, to comprehend an epic tragedy is to focus on one compelling, intimate story. With this play, Ramirez elegantly paints a picture of isolation and despair, with pathos and humor, never forgetting that there are always those around us, some we cannot see and pretend not to see, who want to help us when we are in need. A powerful contemporary message.
  • Rubbish
    12 Apr. 2018
    The setting is modern Singapore, where a law has been established making the collection of trash for the purpose of sale illegal. There are so many words for trash; rubbish, yes, and garbage, waste, and refuse. This last seems best to communicate that which is worthless, discarded. It can be a verb; something turned away, refused. The protagonist, an eighty-eight year old woman for whom this law means the end to her livelihood, selling scavenged cans and cardboard. In the end, it is clear that people can be refuse, too. A surreal story told with humor and heart. Highly recommended!
  • Blowout
    11 Apr. 2018
    An elderly stylist in Del Carmen’s play comments on how everyone wants their hair to look like someone else's. "Lo general nadie está feliz como es," she says. No one is happy with the way things are. But I was delighted with this script (written in Spanish) about transition, change, and gentrification at one neighborhood salon, which includes a variety of charming women characters, great humor, beautiful monologues, and hope for the future.
  • The Big Fuckin' Giant
    10 Apr. 2018
    Bykowski creates a trio of men who are each sympathetic in their own way, and in turn each of their weaknesses are exposed by the others. Women are absent, a couple defined for us by these men, as types -- an African-American who is fetishized and feared, the aloof, white cuckolder. These collegiate athletes channel their aggression and practice their dominance on the women they cannot understand and lives they feel they cannot control on a blow-up doll, and on each other. It is an aggressively physical and painfully eloquent parable for our time, or for all times.
  • Goat Song
    9 Apr. 2018
    On one Galápagos island, Rahn-Lee creates her own Petri dish of compelling characters to stir up a fascinating and even humorous philosophical debate on who lives and who dies, who gets to stay and who is forced to leave, and who has the right to decide. It is a cunning metaphor for today's immigration debate with a chilling conclusion. Highly recommended.
  • The Witches' Tower
    8 Apr. 2018
    New Orleans playwright James Bartelle spins an original, compact and compelling tale of persecuted witches in a classic, lyric style. We are left to imagine whether the accused are truly servants of a malevolent power, or if their only crime is that of being women, punished for actions inherent in the human condition, actions for which no man in their time, or ours, would receive comparable treatment. Bartelle has a way with repetition which is poetic, the condemned women's ruminations either actual spells, or an expression of madness imposed through institutionalized oppression. A powerful period piece reflecting our modern moment.
  • Fuck Cancer
    7 Apr. 2018
    Much cancer treatment, in the West and elsewhere, are merely treatment. The palliate. To soothe. To provide energy, and strength, and hope. Because cancer will win.

    Jagernauth’s play, however, is not so much about the patient, but the provider, whose struggles are a reminder that you cannot take care of the patient if you do not take care of yourself.

    She has created a dreamlike, grounded, and heartbreaking piece about the helplessness we feel in the face of the most insidious and prevalent of maladies. Strongly recommended.
  • Falstaff Riseth
    6 Apr. 2018
    This tale is one of epic absurdity, a relentless and raucous send-up of Elizabethan and high school drama, and above all a tribute to the thankless theater parent, without whom the show would not go on. The pop culture references come at you fast and furious, hip-deep with turns of phrase both classic and current, as a troupe of teens unintentionally strive to produce several productions at once. It's smart, silly, and even subversive, as the playwright has created a Shakespearean showcase where the Bard himself is entirely absent!
  • People of the Book
    5 Apr. 2018
    Taken literally, El Guindi's play is about deception, professional and personal jealousy, and the effect of American wars in the Middle East. It's a great read, with playful and cutting dialogue, and it is also a metaphor for how American has played itself, chaining our fate to the region. Each of the four central characters reflect a different point of view, about art and writing, the war and its worth, and what responsibility the United States has yet to take for its actions. And each of them had my (shifting) sympathy. Highly recommended!

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