Recommended by Donald E. Baker

  • Pangea (Part Two of The Second World Trilogy)
    4 Jul. 2022
    Scott Sickles continues his masterfully written dystopian vision that began in "Marianas Trench." Lincoln and Anzor, now Andy, lost contact when they were eleven and Anzor managed to escape the fascist red-state New Confederacy. Now as 38-year-olds they finally reconnect, in Antarctica, where Lincoln is a researcher and Andy is an astronaut on a top-secret project. There they have a front-row seat to witness the beginnings of environmental Armageddon. Does the earth have a future? Do Lincoln and Andy? Do the penguins? Powerful as part of a trilogy, "Pangea" also stands alone. It's unforgettable.
  • Tunnel Vision
    27 Jun. 2022
    This stunning little one-person play with flexible casting ends with a light-and-sound effect that'll knock an audience's socks off. It'll also leave questions about the speaker that they'll be debating over drinks afterwards and breakfast the next day. It must be produced.
  • Murder in a Cemetery
    1 Jun. 2022
    Producers, if you're looking for something different for your Halloween programming, here's a terrific alternative to the usual fare. It has everything to please an audience--mystery, comedy, and a variety of supernatural beings and clueless humans. Set designers, costumers, and actors will all have a ball doing this one. Highly recommended.
  • To Stand Alone: The Untold Story of Antislavery Advocate Edward Coles - Full Length Historical Drama
    19 Apr. 2022
    Historical dramas, especially ones in which revered figures such as Jefferson, Madison, and Lincoln are characters, can too easily become two-dimensional pageants. Kaminski handily avoids that pitfall in this terrific play about the struggle to prevent Illinois from becoming a slave state despite the prohibitions of the Northwest Ordinance. He presents our founding fathers, known and unknown, as real people with fears, doubts, and contradictions whose ideals sometimes outstripped their abilities and their courage. In the process he introduces us to an almost forgotten hero whose achievements deserve wider recognition. Great work that should be performed throughout Illinois and beyond.
  • The Op
    16 Apr. 2022
    Five people occupy an isolated room, a mix of military, paramilitary, and drug cartelists. As the characters' backstories are revealed layer by painful layer, it becomes obvious their training and life experiences have drained them of their humanity. Empathy, loyalty, and truth are weaknesses. The only virtue is ruthlessness. Each becomes potential collateral damage in the others' struggle to survive. Only one of them leaves the room alive. But which? One of the most disturbing plays I have ever read or seen, bar none, because one fears such people are really out there. So emotional. So frightening. So well done.
  • Gold Paint
    14 Apr. 2022
    In 1948, Russian-Jewish immigrant Willie Goldberg opened his paint store in Washington, D.C. Now it is 1964, the racial makeup of the neighborhood has changed, and he and his Socialist-leaning friends have attracted the interest of the FBI. Four years later his store is the lone survivor of the post-MLK assassination riots. Comedy leavens the dialogue, but the play is a deadly serious look at some less-than-thrilling days of yesteryear. "Gold Paint" is a story that needed telling, and if there's any justice it should have a golden future.
  • Can't Live Without You
    12 Apr. 2022
    What more could you want? One set, small cast, well-rounded characters, engaging story, all put together by Williams’s sure hand. Donny, a writer of bodice-ripping romances, has always allowed other people—his girlfriend, his agent—to make major life decisions for him. Now Bobby, a character from Donny’s never-completed work of serious fiction, manifests himself, demanding all of Donny’s attention. But working on Bobby's novel would require Donny to make radical changes in his relationships and income. Reality and inspiration collide in this excellent work.
  • Famine Plays
    11 Apr. 2022
    This funny, horrifying play is a dystopian nightmare tinged with absurdism, imaginatively conceived with characters that will haunt the memory. The scenic design would be stunning in its simplicity. Excellent work, highly recommended.
  • Man's Revelation
    3 Apr. 2022
    Many people's expectations of Hell and its CEO are an unholy amalgamation of the Bible, Milton, Dante, Goethe, and generations of fire-breathing preachers. So imagine the surprise of the newly deceased individual in Cantrell's hilarious one-act play when he discovers Satan is a sympathetic and urbane being who presides over a well-stocked wet bar, and souls in Hell are only tortured if that's what they're into. Readers will either be appalled at the "blasphemy" or delighted by the satire. Count me among the latter. Great work!
  • NELL DASH, The Gruesomely Merry Adventures Of An Irrepressibly Sensible Capitalist With A Vengeance
    28 Mar. 2022
    I had great expectations for this play and it did not disappoint. It’s a tasty minced pie of a penny dreadful made up of ingredients ground together from large chunks of Dickens, smaller bits of Austen and Brecht, leavening by Sondheim and Bart, and a mysterious seasoning only revealed at the very end, all of it wrapped up in DeVita’s erudite, wicked, shameless sense of humor. There are lines that literally and literarily had me gasping in delight. Reader and audiences alike are sure to Lovett.

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