Recommended by Nick Malakhow

  • PRETTY PERFECT LIVES
    7 Aug. 2023
    An incisive, sharp, and, funny piece about social media and influencing; the commodification of one's life for exposure, profit, and validation; and social media's impact on in-the-flesh relationships. Like all great satire, the tone pushes real concerns, issues, and archetypes to the extreme. I loved the theatricality of toggling between the "real world" and online world, the employment of three actors to recycle through and portray a variety of archetypes, and the fascinating final scene where Tucker and Tiffany confront each other and their relationship as humans vs as the commodities they have been to each other.
  • HARD PLACES
    5 Aug. 2023
    A powerful and tragic exploration of addiction and the ways in which the necessary resources for Tip's recovery are ill-equipped to serve his needs as a Deaf man. All of the characters were rendered beautifully--even and especially when they were being messy and complex--and I appreciated the way Zuercher examined so many of the characters' intersectional identities that illuminated how those divergent identities impacted their lives. The use of ASL, soundscapes, and transitions all help to serve the storytelling as well. I'd be excited to see this on its feet and in performance!
  • BANANA
    4 Aug. 2023
    An intimate and tightly written solo show that explores the liminality of existing as a multiracial queer person. Hamashima tackles the assumptions, challenges, and roadblocks faced by Asian and Asian-American folks in the US and the manner in which multiracial people are encouraged in indirect and direct ways to assimilate and position themselves close to whiteness. They also so beautifully explore the impact of all those expectations on one's sense of self. All this is done in an engaging and theatrical manner that alternates moments of deep humor with moments of great pathos. I'd love to see this performed!
  • Monuments in Exile
    4 Aug. 2023
    This is such a wholly inventive play that explores and explodes concepts around what to do with traumatic history of systemic oppression and violence and its inheritance and impact on present day to day life. Thomas utilizes sharp and incisive and dark humor and gets at the root of what people of all backgrounds zero in on and cling to when it comes to Confederate monuments and memorials. The three characters here are well-rendered and the theatrical mix of direct address, potent 2-3 person scenes, and bold stage images (such as the eye-moving portrait) are deftly used!
  • Pedo Punchers
    2 Aug. 2023
    Wow! What an unsettling and on point exploration of a veritable hornet's nest of things...namely the monetization of awful things through technology, social media, and content creation; internalized and externalized homophobia; different ways young people have been/can be exploited, even by those railing against exploitation; sexual abuse; the obvious and subtle impacts of growing up as outsiders in a small town...the list actually goes on! Garcia has rendered some incredibly distinct characters in thorny situations here. The opening disarms with dark comedy before this piece heads to justifiably darker places to illuminate its broader themes. Very compelling!
  • Unboxing
    2 Aug. 2023
    A fascinating virtual play that elicited a visceral response for how well it captures the terrifying, unsettling socio-political and socio-cultural moment we're in. Vermillion looks at the intersection of media, content creation, politics, identity, and economics with a comprehensive, nuanced eye. The constellation of characters is well-chosen and recognizable. So much is tackled here in illustrating steps towards radicalization--the self-defeating ostracizing of potential liberal allies who don't pass the political litmus test, the welcoming of shunned liberals into far right circles by feeding their desire to belong/be validated, the dangers of being apolitical. On point work!
  • The Re-Education of Fernando Morales
    29 Jul. 2023
    A boldly theatrical piece that uses theatrical conventions to surprise; dig into its main character's personality, experiences and life; and illustrates PTSD in an inventive manner. Lopez explores unsettling topics of gay conversion therapy, internalized and externalized homophobia, and more with a deft hand and a focus on characterization and healing. I appreciated the examination of how Fernando's struggles both impacted and were impacted by those around him who loved and cared for him. In Carlos, we meet a challenging and at times deplorable human; I was impressed with Lopez gives him nuance and shading.
  • maybe the saddest thing
    28 Jul. 2023
    What an exquisitely rendered constellation of people Rivers has created here. Their individual voices shine clearly and distinctly and you can feel all of their wants and needs jump off the page. I appreciated the irregular, human rhythms of speech and behavior captured in the alternatingly short and long scenes, and that the momentum of the piece built organically with potent and ever-increasing tension without ever resorting to manufactured drama. The everyday poetry and lyricism in the text was compelling and highly theatrical while still sounding so natural and subtle. I'd love to see this staged!
  • Seed
    26 Jul. 2023
    A wrenching, unsettling piece that keeps you on your toes! What begins as a gritty, sharply written, and at times poignant examination of two characters with an inescapable tether to one another slowly and surely acquires horror and sci-fi elements that organically emerge and progress to a startling climax. In addition to intriguingly playing with genre and incorporating some really bold theatrical imagery, Bradley explores many potent and current issues of the intersection between mental health, identity, substance abuse and addiction, and more. I'd be interested in seeing this performed.
  • untitled middle school play
    26 Jul. 2023
    This piece is sharp and hilarious and perfectly captures the bold bravado and vulnerability of adolescence. I loved how each character was drawn and the subtle but seismic interpersonal shifts that built to a potent climax. In the character of Toni (and her interactions with the rest of the girls), Goble so wonderfully captures that exciting and destabilizing moment when friend circles are shaken up by an outsider and worlds and perspectives shift because of it. The whole KONY interpretative dance/song creation sequence is absolute hilarity. I'd be eager to follow this piece's developmental trajectory.

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