Recommended by Nick Malakhow

  • Safety Net
    27 Jun. 2019
    A beautiful, beautiful piece! Three amazingly drawn characters with distinct voices. I was so impressed with how vividly this town was rendered with only three characters. The dialogue was briskly moving and natural, with some beautifully lyrical moments and monologues that never felt forced or disingenuous. I was also always pleased that, just as I'd be tearing up or holding my breath, I'd be able to exhale or utter a soft chuckle at some unique and specific and utterly human moment. So happy to see productions on this play's horizon, and I hope I get to see one soon.
  • The Hystericals
    27 Jun. 2019
    What a wonderful, human piece! Freni so deftly captures the rhythms and irregularities of human speech and plumbs those stilted interactions for both hilarity and pathos. Each character is multi-dimensional and unique, and I appreciate the intersectionally diverse set of identities presented. We learn about how each character is treated and viewed by society not through arduous exposition, but through simple, immediate, and nuanced conversations. This play brilliantly interrogates the purpose of support groups and the stigmas and assumptions attached to chronic illness in a way that respects each character, but also doesn't let them off the hook.
  • CRAZY BETTY
    26 Jun. 2019
    An intimate and wonderfully constructed portrait of two women. This piece navigates the territory between comedy and tragedy deftly. Betty and Annie are so richly human, and I root for them the whole time. It's wonderful to see a small piece of rural realism centered on women vs. grizzled and tortured men. What I'm most impressed with is the way in which this play captures the entrenched gender dynamics and socio-cultural atmosphere of the whole world Annie and Betty inhabit with just a few characters. Easy to see this onstage, and I hope to see it produced soon.
  • ONCE UPON A (korean) TIME
    26 Jun. 2019
    A beautiful piece that ranges from the everyday to the fantastical with seamless shifts. Similarly, we go from the hilarious and whimsical to the heartbreaking and gutting sometimes within a few lines. Brilliantly theatrical storytelling. The various parables and folk tales are presented in unique and fascinating ways, and are stitched together with some very satisfying framing devices. As I finished the piece, I considered cultural inheritance, collective trauma/healing, the evolution of folklore, and the responsibility/inevitability of honoring, acknowledging, and passing lessons down. I hope to see this produced soon!
  • John Proctor is the Villain
    26 Jun. 2019
    This play is wonderful! I appreciate it on so many levels--as a playwright, English teacher, as someone who has directed THE CRUCIBLE (but I hope never again). The characters here are all deftly rendered, distinct, and uniquely voiced. This play had me laughing aloud for most of it, and so cathartically moved by its end. I do hope this becomes a staple to be produced in colleges. The language might scare off high school drama/English teachers, but teens should read this--perhaps in a HS unit on THE CRUCIBLE if a district chafes at performing it. Brilliant work!
  • Dong Xuan Center
    25 Jun. 2019
    What a beautiful piece! Lili is a compelling protagonist, and her journey is unique and nuanced. What I admire most about this play is how subtle the shading is for every character. The natural rhythms of speech are captured beautifully, along with thoughtful and at times lyrical monologues that don't feel forced but, rather, feel like genuine moments of revelation for the characters speaking them. Like the best plays, the specificity and richness of these characters from a world so different from my own only heightens the universality of the themes. Citizenship, belonging, betweenness/cultural liminality--so much to think about!
  • Vanquished
    24 Jun. 2019
    This is a wrenching and masterfully structured piece that illuminates violence of all kinds against women from ancient roots to modern horrors. As individual units, each act stands alone as a compelling theatrical experience. Stitched together, they all take on a new power and resonance that is painful, terrifying, prescient, and perspective shifting. The last few lines gave me chills. Wonderful use of doubling. Reading this is unique in that, as the narrative shifts backwards in time, I feel encouraged to think in the present and future--how to recognize and break cycles of oppression as they happen.
  • Mothers
    21 Jun. 2019
    The biting hilarity of act one was the perfect set up to the gutting denouement in act two. Moench creates a super distinct and well-defined world in this piece while only giving us a small cross-section of society--so incredibly impressive! What we don't know of the redefined world in act two is tons more evocative and haunting, I believe, than if we were taken outside the walls of the meetup space. Supremely theatrical, well-paced, consistently surprising, and wholly original. I hope to see this produced some day soon!
  • Laced
    20 Jun. 2019
    This is a fierce and beautiful play! The irregular rhythms and hilarious/human patterns of everyday speech are captured so well here in three dynamic and distinct characters who live at identity intersections consistently and unfortunately neglected in produced work. That finely-tuned realism is counterbalanced by some glorious poetry towards the end of the piece with two of the most wonderful monologues I've read in a while which gave me the chills. The theatrical conceits of cleaning the bar throughout, the time jumps, and the aural landscape heighten the theatricality of the piece. Hope to see this produced soon!
  • The Lucky Ones
    20 Jun. 2019
    What a joy to read! This script had me both laughing aloud and tearing up in alternating turns. This transcends the genre of "cancer play" to be a truthful and human exploration of friendship. I love how it poses questions about the evolving role of friends in one's life over time, and the poignant statements it makes about the lack of words and tropes we have to capture the navigation of major life changes between friends. Vanessa and Janie are hilariously real and nuanced, and the use of the shape-shifting third actor embraces overt theatricality with panache.

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