Recommended by J. Joseph Cox

  • Cephianne's Reflection: A Gullah Fairy Tale for Grown Folk
    18 Oct. 2019
    Listening to these characters discover the power of their own familial love was as magical as the glorious world Ms. Backstrom has drawn for us. The musicality of this creation combined with the visual feast of the enchanted island is bound to lead to a production audiences will be talking about for some time.
  • The Persuadables (formerly titled Disinformation)
    21 May. 2019
    I was mesmerized by this play from start to finish. Hallie Palladino tells the fictionalized tale of the rise and fall of Cambridge Analytica with the insight of someone who knows that world inside and out. The dialogue truly shines. Characters duke it out in ways that both educate and entertain. I couldn’t help but be reminded of some of Aaron Sorkin’s better moments, without the annoying soapbox taking me out of the action. Would love to see a production of this play, exploring the ways to incorporate some of the story’s social media aspects!
  • Viewing
    8 May. 2019
    Why do we go to war? Not as countries, but as the men and women who take up the fight. Is it to repay a debt? To fulfill or subvert expectations? To escape or to hide? Or is it an attempt to make things right in all the wrong ways? Rodriguez portrays a group of small-town Kansans as they attempt to unjumble decisions made and those still in the works during a tumultuous period in American history. The empathy and theatricality in which she approaches this piece makes me eager to see it on its feet.
  • Another Jungle
    9 May. 2018
    Saw Cloudgate Theatre's production of Another Jungle in the old Profiles Theatre space in Chicago. Perfect venue for this show. Kristin seamlessly transitions the play from one set on shining a light on the mistreatment of Polish immigrants in early Chicago to one that takes aim at the abuse of women in the theatre. And she made me laugh while doing it. I am still thinking of this play weeks later.
  • Once I Was a Kingdom
    9 May. 2018
    By page two I was enveloped in the mystery of this piece. It's poetry carried me through the rest. Gemma has created a fascinating character in the psychic, Zeynab. One whose vision goes far beyond the past lives of those who seek her out, burrowing into the psyche of the one who stands before her.
  • Covet (10 min)
    17 Oct. 2017
    From the very beginning this play had me smiling. By the end, I was nodding in agreement as well. Tabitha's views on motherhood would make even the most nurturing of caregivers consider sterilization.
  • Missed Connections
    25 Sep. 2017
    I was intrigued by the premise of this play—the Missed Connections section of the local rag predicting encounters that haven’t happened yet. But, ultimately, what got me was the way those ads encouraged the characters to take charge of their lives instead of letting them pass by. A wonderful example of matching theme with plot device.
  • Girl Found
    23 Sep. 2017
    The mystery at the core of Girl Found takes us beyond the facts and fictions of the title character’s identity. It reflects back to us the omissions, half-truths, and outright lies we sometimes commit in an effort to create and preserve a sense of belonging. Barb Lhota has given us broken characters who are willing to overlook so much in their desperate desire to fix the past.
  • Em 'n' Nam
    19 Sep. 2017
    Em ‘n' Nam explores the power and gender dynamics between a student and her professor in a wildly fun, at times horrifying, and absolutely absurd way. Dana creates a classroom where truth is whatever comes from the mouth of the powerful. That truth is defined and redefined with every sentence--be it spoken or not.