Recommended by Nick Malakhow

  • Like Father
    24 May. 2020
    I loved this queer subversion/explosion of the Oedipus myth. There are plenty of recognizable characters, relationships, and tropes from the source material, but the story has also clearly been transformed into a whole other being. Tseng utilizes the myth to explore a host of intriguing and nuanced themes like stewardship/legacy within the gay male community, the processing of adoption and its connection to identity, and bereavement/letting go/moving on. At the same time, Tseng honors Oedipus with a healthy dose of tragedy, fate, and familial cycles. The ending sequence (last 20 pages) was spectacular, and left me breathless.
  • Nothing But Skin
    23 May. 2020
    I enjoyed the tension-filled relationships and vividly-defined, yearning characters set up in the first half of this piece. An unsettling and surprising revelation at the halfway points succeeds in amping up the stakes while still keeping the focus on these complex characters' humanity and journeys. Hartwell also succeeds at conjuring a sense of place and atmosphere with deft skill. I'd be interested to see this piece up on its feet--the ambiguous ending is satisfying even as it's open to interpretation. I'd be thrilled to read more about this intriguing constellation of people and enjoyed my time spent with them.
  • You Will Get Sick
    23 May. 2020
    A gorgeous piece that has the spare lyricism and beauty as well as offbeat, eclectic, and unique aesthetic of Diaz's other plays I've read. Parker's journey serves as a profound yet straightforward metaphor for a variety of things--a sense of shame reagrding long-term hidden or visible chronic illness, losing control of one's body, grief, coming to terms with all sorts of uncomfortable truths--while also being a dynamic real-time story. All of the aesthetic eccentricities--the existential threat of the birds, the connected imagery of Dorothy, the midwest, scarecrow--conspire to create a poignant and often funny fable of sorts.
  • The Way North
    22 May. 2020
    An exquisite piece! Freddy is a fantastic, compelling nucleus around which the play orbits. I love how, despite the hugely high stakes of the piece once Agnes arrives, Palmquist's plot unfolds with tension, yes, but also with nuanced and complex character development instead of overwrought tragedy. The central moral question of what is the right thing to do vs. what is the letter of the law is so sharply and perfectly dissected and explored here. Each character's words ring with truth and naturalism and also with moments of lyrical beauty. How I'd love to see this onstage!
  • After and Before
    21 May. 2020
    The reverse chronology of this play makes for some ingeniously-revealed character development as well as some genuine and poignant surprises. Eric Reyes Loo establishes three unique and complex individuals. Don's journey is compelling, as are the relationships between him and Mike and him and Annemarie. Additionally, Reyes Loo explores faith, identity, living one's truth, and the intersection of religion and sexual orientation in a nuanced and fully fleshed out manner. Don's loaded conversations with Mike evoke sympathy for both characters, even as we see Don struggling to live his truth and Mike yearning to not hide. Beautiful work!
  • Boxer Briefs
    20 May. 2020
    I enjoyed this lighthearted romantic comedy that explored familial relationships, gay dating and hookup culture, and navigating life for 20 and 30-somethings. Tom and Rick are well-defined and likeable characters, and the slew of funny and awkward dates and hook ups (with some poignant moments in there for good measure) are comedic without being too schticky. The piece manages to speak to broader issues and tensions related to gay male dating, sex, and romance while still capturing a specific time and place. Would be a great and audience pleasing comedic addition to a season!
  • Eyes Shut. Door Open.
    19 May. 2020
    I watched the streamed Zoom reading of this piece and was wholly engaged and thrilled throughout its entire running time! Seinuk has crafted three really complex characters and puts them in a powder-keg of a situation. The piece at once lives at a heightened and mythic pitch while also telling an intimate story of trauma, addiction, mental health struggles, and cycles of familial violence. The hauntings served to both punctuate the tightly-written scenes and raise the stakes/tension. I thought the startling intimacy and lyrical language worked well on Zoom--I'd love to see it in the flesh too!
  • The Other Side
    19 May. 2020
    A disturbing and surprising narrative centered around sexual assault and trauma that fully explores the nuances and complexities of its two characters. Tseng provides no easy answers as they render the thorny and upsetting material. I appreciated that Esther's experiences as a survivor were always in the forefront, even as Tseng worked to humanize and illustrate David's unexpected past experiences. I also loved that this was a two-hander even as it showed us the character's lives when they weren't directly interacting with one another. The information we learned in these private moments and pantomimed interactions was revelatory and vital.
  • SWAY
    19 May. 2020
    An amazing, highly theatrical, and inventive piece! S MJ has crafted four complex and extremely distinct characters and has put them into a potent powder keg of a situation. The hilarious, unsettling, and heightened world of the piece slowly escalates, punctuated by eerie interruptions by the radio. The off-the-wall denouement both takes things to another level and feels inevitable all at once. The connections between social media influencing and cult-like worship are spot on, and I feel as if I haven't yet read or seen a theatrical take on this narrative. I'd love to see this onstage!
  • Blue Point
    18 May. 2020
    This is a potent and unsettling collection of scenes that examines the relationship of two boys over a long and eventful period. It is always intriguing to see what has completely changed and what has remained that same at each new notch in the chronology of the play. Chad and Blake are perfectly troubled characters whose search for connection and love makes them sympathetic through very disturbing circumstances. Schmidt explores with sensitivity and complexity people (the boys plus others) trapped by their socio-cultural context and other forces and whose potential is snuffed out before it can catch fire.

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