Recommended by Ian Thal

  • IMPRESSIONS OF PARIS
    3 Mar. 2024
    In "Impressions of Paris" Syran explores the world of French Impressionist painting through the career of Suzanne Valadon. Syran is not content to present the lives and aesthetic debates of her colleagues, but situates them in the relationship between their counter-cultural movement and the world of commerce and respectability: Where they showed, and where they wished to be seen; The hiring of models; the laundresses and seamstresses that made and cleaned the costumes; and the barriers of sexism and classism. It's a world richly recreated in words, song, images, and shadows.
  • Communal Table
    30 Jan. 2024
    From the tilt of Earth's axis to the opening and closing of financial markets in different time zones, to subtle changes in the food and beverage industry, Jenny Lyn Bader brings a the world (and at least one other planet) to the coffeehouse where three very different personalities find themselves awkwardly shoulder-to-shoulder at the communal table. As the banter skips from one subject to another, the imagination is stimulated as a vast universe of metaphors, analogies, and non-sequiturs become possible. This short comedy is delightfully intricate as the gear-work of an orrery.
  • King of the Yees
    28 Jan. 2024
    Lauren Yee starts "King of the Yees" with a metatheatrical framing device of an actor playing playwright Lauren Yee, and an actor playing an actor playing playwright Lauren Yee sharing the stage, and continues a satirical "hero's journey" as the playwright-avatar-protagonist explores both the mythology of San Francisco's Chinatown, and the political and economic realities of the community and its role in city, and state politics. Yee's writing is weird, smart, and hilarious. I reviewed Signature Theatre's 2023 production for Washington City Paper: https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/631821/king-of-the-yees-a-comic-heros-journey-through-san-franciscos-chinatown/
  • Hazardous Materials
    28 Jan. 2024
    An affecting story about a pair of lonely neighbors, while we witness their friendship develop, all that accumulates and is left behind is to be misinterpreted sixty years later by the pair of lonely county investigators assigned to the scene. Objects can be hoarded, even as their meaning is lost, and so Kander cleverly leaves some mysteries unsolved. I reviewed Perisphere Theater's 2023 production of Hazardous Materials for Washington City Paper: https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/636380/solving-the-mystery-isnt-the-point-in-hazardous-materials/
  • A Delicate Ship
    26 Jan. 2024
    Friction arises when a life-long best friend Nate meets Sarah's new lover, Sam. It’s a relatable situation for many: A day or night balanced on one of the vertices of a triangle of love and jealousy. What marks Ziegler’s play is that she gives all three of these characters equal dramatic weight and gives insight into their hearts and minds. Even when behaving badly, they are understandable. Most importantly though, Ziegler's characters are interesting, whether reminiscing about family and childhood, or discussing art and ideas. I reviewed a 2023 production for Washington City Paper: https://washingtoncitypaper.com/article/646851/4615-theater-company-sails-off-on-its-final-voyage-in-a-delicate-ship/
  • They're In There
    12 Jan. 2024
    A psychological horror story about the anxiety of apartment living, where your neighbors can hear one's every word, and the building may be infested, leads into body horror.
  • Not Getting Old
    26 Oct. 2023
    Some older folk deride young people these days; Some are simply confused; but Edna has chosen to become a young person in the days of social media, online dating, streaming music and the latest fashions, but is she really anymore more confused than those who are experiencing the life of a twenty-five year-old the first time around?
  • The Honest Interview
    26 Oct. 2023
    A hilarious satire of and Human Resources management practices in the information technology sector with and the level of discrimination and misogyny that permeates even when –and especially when– technologies are used to create "transparency". Today it's data and surveillance, will truth serum be next year's management practice?
  • Remembering Elizabeth
    19 Oct. 2023
    A vivid portrait of a man descending into dementia. While some of his personality, and wit remains intact, each day is like an absurdist play in which with help from his second wife, Elizabeth Albert must refamiliarize himself with his world and personal history, and some days, like today, are like a detective drama, in which both the audience and Albert must assemble to evidence to discover what happened on the worst day of Albert's life. Emotionally gripping without being nostalgic or sentimental.
  • TWO JEWS WALK INTO A WAR...
    19 Sep. 2023
    The last two Jews of Kabul live together in the last synagogue of Kabul, and though they hate one another they decide to write their own Torah to replace the one stolen by the Taliban, what follows are debates about masturbation, lesbians, and eating animals not mentioned in the Torah. In the streets the Taliban deal in violence. Inside the synagogue Ishaq and Zeblyan deal in slapstick, and in their debates the vulgar and sacred meet, and yet, this too, is Torah.

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