Recommended by Nick Malakhow

  • Renovation
    31 Mar. 2024
    A compelling constellation of multilayered humans grounds this moving play. John explores family, cycles of pain, motherhood, parenting, and grieving with a keenly observed eye that takes into account the unique identities of his characters. As much as it is about the elusive American Dream, it's also about the baggage of family history and immigrant narratives that make up our society. Well-rendered, naturalistic scenes are punctuated by some brazenly, magical, theatrical moments. I'm eager to see the development trajectory of this piece and to see it on its feet!
  • Desert Oceans
    30 Mar. 2024
    A gentle, lyrical work that looks at queer identity and grieving in four sympathetic and disparate characters. Each has urgent needs, wants, and histories that impact the present. It feels very intentional that divergent opinions on funeral traditions, faith, honoring the dead, and grieving play potent roles throughout. John captures a poignant loneliness inherent in queerness without exploiting the trauma of their tenderly drawn characters. I'm eager to see this work on stages!
  • Rift, or White Lies
    30 Mar. 2024
    A troubling, essential work that examines white supremacy, class conflict, abuse, and family in a head-on yet nuanced fashion. We increasingly see the "inside" brother's humanity as we begin to see the flaws in "outside" brother's narrative, and that murky navigation is deftly handled. Most importantly, our understanding of each character's life is done without exploiting or manipulating Black characters. The capitalist, opportunistic forces that maintain white supremacy are fully explored in the flawed white characters onstage. I'd love to see this staged.
  • French Boy Cigarettes
    29 Mar. 2024
    What a well-observed play with nuanced, troubled, and sympathetic characters. The stuff of this play has been so historically reserved for the straight, white antiheroes of Sam Shepard and the like. Najla, Jawad, Tommy, and his mother are so multidimensional and, here, Forest Malley explores big truths about family, domestic abuse, and relationships while always keeping a clear eye on the intersectional identities of his characters and how they intertwine with those larger themes. There are sublime moments of theatricality as the pressure-cooking builds. I'd love to see these characters realized in a production!
  • Amputees
    24 Mar. 2024
    A play that is as tender and intimate as it is expansive. Tonally speaking, it also straddles a fine line between poignant 'complicated family drama,' farcical hilarity, and historical family intrigue. A lot is tackled here! Family history, mental health, identity. All throughout, Quentin Nguyen-duy writes his characters compassionately and with a nuanced brush that highlights their precarious sense of in-betweenness that both strains familial ties and brings them all together. I'm excited to see the developmental trajectory of this play!
  • 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!
    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!