Recommended by Vince Gatton

  • Massage Envy
    12 Oct. 2020
    The physical intimacy of this premise, the extreme volubility of one of the characters, and (perhaps) your own baked-in story expectations contribute to building a terrific amount of tension here, tension that turns out to be no less real for having been so effectively misdirected. A fun and ruthless little journey.
  • AN ESTUARY
    29 Sep. 2020
    A very moving family story whose characters, plot points, and even formal devices are all more messy, complicated, and nuanced than they may at first appear. Young Isaac's pursuit of the mystery of his paternity, and his mother's ghostly magical-realist intervention/narration, are made fresh by the many surprises that lie in store for both of them. Underneath it all is a beautiful story about how love unexpressed stifles the very ability to express love, and how sticky a mother-son bond can be regardless.

    (Also: THIS IS A FIRST DRAFT???? How dare Nick Malakhov. How dare he.)
  • That Moment When ...
    29 Sep. 2020
    Well, this is a delight: an entire romantic comedy with nary a wasted word. The “just the facts” use of narration here (as opposed to fully articulated inner monologues) creates a highly theatrical, surprisingly emotional, and deeply relatable story. A terrific illustration of how a gesture, a look, or a breath can speak volumes.
  • MISS MOONLITE BBQ PAGEANT
    19 Sep. 2020
    If The Miss Firecracker Contest and The Secret Garden had a baby in the holler, it would look very much like MISS MOONLITE BBQ PAGEANT, a tale of loss, healing, and BBQ concoctions. Martin shares Beth Henley’s love of oddballs and outcasts, but her people have a more Appalachian edge; in her hands, tried and true plot elements feel fresh, and generous doses of salt keep sentimentality at bay even as the characters (and this reader) go through hugely emotional journeys. Sage Martin is a young writer with a whiskey voice and an enormous, quivering heart. One to watch.
  • Airlock
    16 Sep. 2020
    This science-fiction suspense drama gives you high stakes, compelling characters, well-calibrated tensions, and moments of deeply relatable humor and vulnerability. When the old world is falling apart, the better world you strive for is suddenly in grave doubt, and your sources of information and authority can’t be trusted, how do you keep going? For a play written in 2015, it feels uncomfortably on-point here in the year 2020. My lesson: Listen to Kari Bentley-Quinn.
  • RIPPLE
    16 Sep. 2020
    How is it I'm feeling so educated about cosmic phenomena and ruthlessly (though affectionately) mocked all at once? Oh, it's because I just read RIPPLE, this delightfully funny, weird, and informative play about the nature of black holes...and actors. Excellent metatheatrical fun here from Rachael Carnes -- plus, you know, it's totally based on true events! Ancient, ancient, ANCIENT events. So that's a bonus.
  • Respects
    15 Sep. 2020
    Respect to Respects, because I genuinely laughed out loud at this. Its dark mind-frak of a premise was right up my alley, and the execution spot on. All the characters are fun and believable (well, believable to exactly the extent they're meant to be), and Hayet manages to stick a landing I did not expect but felt exactly right. Dark, hilarious, and surprisingly compassionate, this sucker is a well-constructed winner.
  • The Pineapple Line
    15 Sep. 2020
    Wait...what?

    Hold on a sec, let me read that again.

    No. Yeah. OK. Yeah, I did read that right the first time.

    Huh.

    Well.

    Whew, that was A LOT.

    Everyone's got their lines they just won't cross; and then there's Steven Hayet's Pineapple Line, a savage short comedy that tests everyone's limits. A balls-to-the-wall hoot.
  • Unburied: A Queer Horror-Comedy
    13 Sep. 2020
    A wickedly fun, self-aware, meta-theatrical Halloween treat. While skewering tired clichés about Tragic Gays, Unburied revels in a smorgasbord of horror and fantasy tropes — I detected bits of Frankenstein, Murder By Death, The Eyre Affair, and Deathtrap, to name a few — while scratching at bigger questions about some gay people’s strained relationship to their own sense of identity. Good, murderous fun.
  • Use Your Noodles
    8 Sep. 2020
    This charming-as-hell short play shows Steven Strafford’s keen eye and capable hand. The banter is witty, the characters are likable, the metaphors are self-conscious yet astute, and the revelations are well-timed and -executed. Tremendously actable with clear intentions and stakes, this sly rom-com left me smiling, and utterly disarmed.

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