Recommended by Michael C. O'Day

  • Marianas Trench (Part One of The Second World Trilogy)
    7 Nov. 2023
    Here's the thing: if you grew up a nerdy child in America and you lived to tell the tale, then nothing about our present, frightening political moment is the least bit surprising - the impulse towards fascism is just the bullying instinct writ large. Sickles knows this truth in his bones, and he's used it as the foundation of MARIANAS TRENCH - a magnificent melange of science-fiction epic, coming-of-age story, immigrant saga, queer romance, political satire, and possibly (gods I hope not) prophesy. A spectacular achievement.
  • Cassie Strickland Is Not Under the Bed
    28 Oct. 2023
    The problem with recommending this play, and saying that it's got one of the all-time great jump scares, is that it's selling the piece short. CASSIE STRICKLAND is also a masterful depiction of American masculinity, gun culture, small-town dynamics, and survivor guilt, and to say one more word about Gatton's accomplishment is to rob it of its sinister power. (But yeah, it's got one of the all-time great jump scares.)
  • The Polycule: A Comedy of Manners
    23 Sep. 2023
    A zippy mash-up of Moliere and "The Ethical Slut," Blevins' piece works beautifully not just because of its cleverness - though its plotting and rhyme schemes are clever as hell - but because the play's construction reflects and amplifies its theme. The rules of a farce in rhymed couplets are as strict and byzantine as the rules of a polyamorous unit, after all, but in both cases those rules only barely contain the roiling human passions contained therein. Delightful fun for good, giving, and game actors.
  • Reconnaissance
    20 Aug. 2023
    Does it feel that the average American, in their chaotic and diffident response to the environmental crises we're facing, has a proverbial devil and angel perched on either shoulder whispering in their ear? It certainly does to Feriend, who has the perceptive acumen to make the devil a space alien and the "average American" worried he's there for a probe and convinced that Chinese weather balloons are somehow involved. A delightfully mordant piece of satire.
  • The Gas Man Cometh
    20 Aug. 2023
    A deeply affecting and urgent piece of work. Williams is dealing with a number of sensitive topics here - fracking and its environmental cost, yes, but also the realities of raising a child on the autistic spectrum and the ways economics and class complicate our lives - and any one of them could go awry in the wrong hands. But Williams' hands are absolutely the right ones; he balances everything with sure and steady construction, true empathy, and builds to a gut-wrenching (but weirdly hopeful) conclusion.
  • He’s The First
    20 Aug. 2023
    A sweet, wistful pas-de-deux of adolescent love (or love-adjacent feelings, at any rate - adolescence is complicated) that also features some of the biggest belly laughs I've seen on stage in a good long while. Burke's is a wonderfully specific voice, alive to nuances not only of race and sexuality, but of how each generation finds new ways to tell the same timeless story.
  • Space Laser, In Space!
    11 Aug. 2023
    A dark and propulsive delight. Blevins is juggling a lot of balls here - science fiction, workplace comedy, political satire, and Talumdic ethical debate - and does so with giddy aplomb. It's hilarious, it's heartbreaking, and it might just make you wish space lasers were real (heavy though their burden may be).
  • a marriage is a story we tell and keep telling
    3 Aug. 2023
    Simply coining the phrase "wedding-industrial complex" would be enough for a lesser playwright. But Frimer is a major talent, with a penetrating theatrical intelligence and a gift for rhapsodic torrents of language, and this love story is a timely and heartfelt gem.
  • Kaylee and Adelyn
    30 Jul. 2023
    A heartrending little gem, Shannon does a terrific and poetic job depicting the richly intertwined emotional lives of twin sisters - which she then deploys to devastating effect in crafting the most original cry of outrage against our school shooting epidemic that I've seen in quite a while. Shannon is clearly a young writer to keep an eye on.
  • Monarchs
    30 Jun. 2023
    A great big boisterous epic, fusing a Jewish-American coming out story with Victorian melodrama - thanks to a Pan who's been holed up in Neverland reading Charles Dickens and Judith Butler - MONARCHS works wonderfully thanks to Frimer's immense heart and assured language. The language! She unleashes arias of anguished longing, turns family bickering into baroque fugues, and sprinkles just enough punning humor to serve as pixie dust - a gift for actors looking for a chance to pour out their souls.

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