Recommended by Nick Malakhow

  • The Teddies
    31 Dec. 2023
    This is such a well-defined set of characters placed into a unique, ever so slightly heightened (until the end when it becomes magnificently heightened!) setup. Patrick excels at exploring themes of masculinity, radicalization, belonging, and socio-cultural and socio-political group dynamics from angles I never would've thought of myself. The theatricality of working out is used to good effect here, as are all the clever metaphors and images connecting the gym, church/worship, and society. I'd love to see this performed!
  • Atomic Toys
    31 Dec. 2023
    A clever, poignant dramedy with a compelling nucleus in Jo. The time and place--90's in a vintage store at the dawn of eBay and the beginnings of online commerce--are vividly realized here and the store is an amazing character in and of itself and would be a treat for a designer to realize! I appreciated the ways Josh explores how we assign meaning and value to objects and how those values may be at odds with the ways the world is changing...those connections, ever complicated, may keep us stuck as much as they can nourish us.
  • Home, Oblivion
    31 Dec. 2023
    A beautiful, slightly surreal theatrical collage that examines grief, the opioid crisis, addiction, responsibility, and recovery using an impactful collage of people. The dreamlike logic of transitions and the design elements so effectively mirrors the irregular and perseverating tidal forces of grief. I would so love to see this staged!
  • THE LAST YIDDISH SPEAKER
    14 Dec. 2023
    A deeply affecting, creative piece of speculative fiction. Laufer skillfully builds the world of the play with deftly chosen details. The particular constellation of characters here also serve to explore the trajectory of how the poison of hatred and intolerance in all forms and, very specifically antisemitism, can infect a society. Sarah's journey is incredibly compelling, from her tension with her father and her father's willingness to assimilate and simply survive to her desire to understand an identity she's been robbed of owning and exploring. A straightforward, accessible, potent play that achieves a lot of nuance and complexity.
  • Stand Your Ground
    4 Dec. 2023
    There is a lot tackled here with alternatingly devastating and sharply hilarious brushstrokes. Vermillion explores "bleeding heart liberal martyrdom," masculinity, violence, pride, the fear of losing ground from both sides of the political aisle, and more. Like Vermillion's other work, these characters manage to live simultaneously as interesting and plausible humans with unique wants and desires as well as representations of volatile socio-political conversations. I'd love to see this on its feet!
  • The Good Boy Game
    4 Dec. 2023
    Phew! What a wildly astute, sharp, and unsettling play about masculinity, violence, and radicalization. This is one of the few plays in which the characters both have these specific and compelling (albeit heightened and satirical) character arcs and truths, while also being finely drawn metaphors for huge, topical social issues and political discourse. In James, Vermillion illustrates just how close beneath the surface of real "normal" men is the capacity for hatred and violence and how that is tied to social expectations of masculinity and manhood. The ending is quite a gut punch!
  • The Bed Trick
    15 Nov. 2023
    This play deftly weaves together ideas and themes from Shakespeare's truly bizarre "All's Well That Ends Well" with an engaging, contemporary, character-driven plot about consent and relationships and reevaluation of the past. Like that thematic thread of reevaluation, Keiko reexamines and contextualizes the original play. So many juicy moments and character decisions here and all of the characters manage to emerge both sympathetic yet shouldering blame and the consequences of their actions.
  • SURELY GOODNESS AND MERCY
    9 Nov. 2023
    A gorgeously subtle, intimate, character-driven play full of beautifully realized humans. The scenes are tenderly observed, poignant, and funny. The connection we see between Tino and Bernadette is specific and organic. I loved the way the scenes at school were punctuated by Tino's visits to church, mirroring his quest to find connection and community. This is deserving of multitudinous productions!
  • How to Draw a Triangle
    24 Oct. 2023
    Aaron is such a charming and relatable nucleus to this story of emerging queerness, awkward friendship, and coming of age. Ms. Jimenez is also smartly drawn and you understand where she is coming from even as she brushes up against and crosses boundaries and goes through her own journey with addiction, identity, self worth, and more. I loved the fluidity of time and space--this is a play that begs to be staged (with ALL of the glorious musical interludes), and the final scene is a poignant piece of punctuation to the narrative.
  • Tracy Jones
    23 Oct. 2023
    I can easily see why this funny and poignant comedy is getting so much love. It works beautifully as a farce--the setup is hilarious and the various gags and laughs throughout land beautifully. What is most impressive is how much all the humor so organically arises from the well-drawn characters and their competing/intersecting wants and needs. This is a very human meditation on loneliness that punches you in the heart as much as it does in the funny bone (which it does so repeatedly and effectively). Here's to many more productions of it in the future!

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