Recommended by Philip Middleton Williams

  • Red River Falls
    15 Jun. 2024
    I saw a reading of this inventive and intriguing play at the 2024 Valdez Theatre Conference, and I was very impressed by the intelligent use of fantasy and family drama. All of the characters are fully developed and give the audience an insight to the dynamics of a family facing a new world. This would be a fine addition to any theatre's season, and I hope to see it in production soon.
  • A Visit from Santa Claus
    14 Jun. 2024
    This warm and family-friendly play is about Christmas, but it can be done at any time, because the characters encompass all of the feelings that we would have for our family at any time of year. Kyle Walker deftly combines elements of fantasy, “Toy Story,” and sibling rivalry for a story that combines laughs and tears of joy. This should become a staple of every Christmas festival, no matter what time of year.
  • How to Pronounce Samhain
    14 Jun. 2024
    The story of learning about other people and their ways of life is ever on-going. In this short but very well-developed play, Michael C. O'Day has given us a place -- a graveyard -- and a moment of reflection on a lost love and brought in outsiders who discover they do have a connection, even if it's through the intrusion of a Frisbee. Each of them find their ground and their truths, and it is told in a warm and touching way.
  • The Totality of All Things
    12 Jun. 2024
    For those of us who have worked in public schools and seen the impact that repression of thought and expression has wrought on every member of the community -- students, teachers, and parents -- and how the struggle to speak out has become a threat to life and liberty, Erik Gernand's story of one school, one teacher, one family, and one friend is a powerful statement. It is done without taking sides, deftly avoiding the polemics by making it about the people and the unintended consequences. Seen at the 2024 Valdez Theatre Conference, it needs to be seen everywhere.
  • Park Benches
    27 May. 2024
    Darrin Friedman handles a situation many of us have faced - the impending loss of a loved one -and does it with sensitivity, insight, and even a slight touch of humor. The conversation David has with Agnes is reflective not just of his own feelings of loss, but also the inevitable sense of guilt that more could have been done if only... And yet there is hope in this internal moment that carries us beyond this moment and into the future, but still with enough room to leave time to pay attention to the moment... and the ducks.
  • Born a Clown
    16 May. 2024
    Rand Higbee's dry sense of humor and engaging characters along with his genuine sense of timing and dialogue is on full display in this fantastic comedy. I was at the Valdez Theatre Conference in 2023 when it was first presented, and even in the staged reading setting, it was hilarious, so I can imagine what it would be like fully produced. All in all, this is a play that from start to finish will keep you on your toes.
  • Just Like Stealing
    8 May. 2024
    There is an art in telling a story so that even if the characters have trouble articulating their thoughts, we instinctively grasp what they're struggling to say. Douglas Gearhart's way of expressing his characters lands like poetry, where a word or a phrase says as much as a paragraph in the hands of a less-gifted storyteller. "Just Like Stealing" deals with people eking out a living and trying to get by with the smallest of favors, which magnifies their struggles both at work and off the clock. The tension, the resolution, and the truths are powerful and palpable. Great work.
  • Gaston Leroux's The Phantom of the Opera
    7 May. 2024
    Most of us are familiar with "The Phantom of the Opera," if not from the original novel by Gaston Leroux, then the classic 1925 silent film with Lon Chaney. (I hear there are musicals, too: the one by Arthur Kopit and another by some Brit.) But in Kyle Walker's capable hands, the story comes to life on stage with strong characters and a tale that will keep your attention riveted as the mystery and horror unfolds, drawing you into the dark world of the catacombs. It is atmospheric, thrilling, and best of all, [spoiler alert] no chandelier.
  • GWOT (Please Don't @*ck Anyone Else While I'm Gone)
    6 May. 2024
    In this taut and intense play, Douglas Gearhart shows the damage war causes off the battlefield, and the scars aren't just physical. It is about the destruction of a marriage by proxy, and it is just as powerful and gripping as any horror story of combat and loss. Frank and Heather's marriage is long over when both of them are forced to confront their true feelings for each other as they prepare to share it with Alice, the government investigator. There are truths, past and present, that are sometimes too hard to bear.
    1 May. 2024
    This short piece has the perfect set-up that lulls you into its world of memories and gentle neglect; a widow closing herself off from the world, only now to have her lawyer come by to go over a few things. Craig Houk's skill at weaving the tale and drawing us in is on full display here, and you immediately feel for Francine and how she came to be the way she is in her loneliness. This story is both touching and suspenseful, and the way the end arrives is a masterful moment of truth.