Recommended by John Minigan

  • Excessed: Inside the Museum of Poverty
    13 Oct. 2018
    This is a powerful, disturbing play. Set in a sort of Utopian future that has turned dystopian, a time in which poverty has been eliminated but put on display--performed (though some find it "too difficult to look at"), Excessed questions most of our assumptions about how the world works and how it should work. If we could solve poverty with a universal basic income, would the world be better or would we still suffer? Can art which shows our suffering to the world help us? Or is it parasitic? Fascinating, troubling, profoundly thought-provoking work.
    10 Oct. 2018
    Greg Burdick's play brings so much of the struggle of current public education to the fore: helicopter parents (in this play, literally), administrators who are out of touch with the reality of the classroom, teachers from whom perfection is expected and whose personal troubles are pushed aside, and kids whom the system harms while trying to help. The action in the scenes is completely compelling, and Burdick interrupts the headlong rush of action with telling, wild, non-naturalistic interludes that engage the issues in new ways before plunging us back in. Riveting. (And makes me glad I retired from teaching.)
  • Paradoxysm
    6 Oct. 2018
    This is a stunning short play, set in a beautifully imagined place and time, and focused on a heart-breaking dilemma. The space becomes a gorgeous visual/aural metaphor for a timeless place of loss, and the protagonist's struggle with grief over a tragedy is deeply felt. What lengths would we go to in order to save a friend? What sacrifices are worthwhile? And how far must we remove ourselves from daily existence to find a place to contemplate questions so large? There is tremendous life and heart in these ten pages.
    4 Oct. 2018
    A wild ride that begins with the energetic language of a play like Bald Soprano while confronting the way pop culture, advertising, and media blend with the "rules" by which women are expected to behave. These characters live in their school's and their society's "mock-up" of what their lives will be, and their mix of "how to toe the line" and the desire to rebel is real and resonant. It's very funny and then it's not--as we move from the 1930's to today, and the characters experience the legacy of those years as it plays out all around us.
  • Community Garden
    2 Oct. 2018
    This is a powerful, TOUGH play. Jolivet gives us an engaging, meta-theatrical concept, in a theater and about a theater piece, that's deeply challenging. What does it mean to try to do good in the world--and what does it take for real political action to reach its targets? Can art be a force for positive change, or is that naive? How do we avoid falling into cynical despair? By the end, it's a hard play to watch (in the best possible way), because our assumptions have been so fundamentally questioned. An important play that "disturbs the comfortable."
  • Talk to Me About Home (a ten minute play)
    25 Aug. 2018
    This is a clear and affecting short play about the challenges of reconnecting and rediscovering a friendship that has faded. Years have passed for Kat and Beth, but the good and bad they experienced together and apart have stayed with them. The play also looks at the way a single aspect of a person or a personality can dominate our memory and how, in the same way, a single aspect of a shared past can help to bring together those who have been apart for a long time.
  • Recessed! Or When the Mortgage Goes Upside Down
    25 Aug. 2018
    This fierce one-act takes on the worst days of the Great Recession with strong theatricality and a surprising but totally effective mix of pathos and humor. The middle-aged parents in a family struggle to maintain the appearance of the American Dream (if not the reality), and the characters around them, including their two kids, are a mix of savvy and clueless about the realities Mom and Dad face. A lively, ironic look at some very dark days, with a brilliant visual metaphor at its center.
  • If You Could Go Back...
    25 Aug. 2018
    I saw this gloriously funny piece in a recent festival of shorts. It's ingenious, with time-lines (and characters) looping back on themselves, continuous reversals, and hilariously sharp dialogue. There is virtuosity in the craft, a string of hilarious complications--and all effectively teasing out the absurdity of thinking we understand what we would do (and SHOULD do) when faced with th big moral choices. It's an outstanding, fast-paced play.
  • To Love and Be Loved in Return
    19 Aug. 2018
    "To Love and Be Loved in Return" is a beautifully constructed spiraling in toward the middle of an affair--but not the affair you think you are hearing about. It's a devastating, clear portrait of people who, in the midst of losing their sense of love, are finding one another and finding a truth that, maybe, will sustain them in through the lies they have been told. Lovely, surprising, carefully wrought work that gives us a final moment in which one of the characters feels exactly what we feel watching her.
  • Sunday Sauce
    14 Aug. 2018
    Sunday Sauce is delicious. The play captures the way comedy and tragedy can play off each other in times of grief, and the five characters--especially the three sisters of a(n un)certain age--are clearly, lovingly, and hilariously drawn. Like the opera in the background of this play, the stakes and drama are always high and the passions intense. At the same time, the characters are lovable and rich in their own right and in their connections to their culture and one another. A warm, true, funny, wonderful play.