Recommended by Toby Malone

  • the wild ones
    14 Jan. 2022
    When Gina Femia calls this "high concept" into which she's "leaning in", you know you're in for a brilliant ride. Smashing different time frames together while creating a "Thursday Next"-style out-of-book life for fictional characters, who react when they are read in the real world, is hugely satisfying. Slipping seamlessly between different eras of "wildness" and finding new ways to explore topics of identity, sexuality, and self-expression, this is a massive achievement which culminates in a furious, thunderous finale that compels you to listen and learn. This is more than an adaptation of Little Women: it is an eruption.
  • Beast
    14 Jan. 2022
    It never really occurred to me until now that the one who learns the lesson that "beauty is found within" is not the Beast, but it's Belle. Lisa has clearly thought a lot about this, because she takes this premise, brings back the sorceress beggar woman and turns the handsome Prince into an even uglier Beast so he'll learn his lesson after all... but there's an ulterior motive, which made me laugh out loud. This is super fun, very accessible, and with Lisa's trademark style. A winner!
  • To Fall in Love
    14 Jan. 2022
    Jennifer Lane's "To Fall in Love" is such a beautiful snapshot of the fallout of grief and trauma that it left me breathless. Based around a scientific claim that asking 36 leading questions and adding 4 minutes of eye contact can lead to love, Merryn and Wyatt use this strategy to fall back into love after an unspeakable personal tragedy. The genius part here is that Lane is patient with what is revealed, and the throb of grief underscores in such an intimate way that you bleed for these people and what they are suffering. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.
  • JULIE ON HER KNEES: a crass and jovial exorcism to help you break up with August Strindberg
    14 Jan. 2022
    This just blew. me. away. Courtney Bailey takes on Strindberg - a playwright that a younger version of herself naively once claimed wrote her favorite play, "Miss Julie" - and uses a modern adaptation (in a Southern Baptist Seminary) to exorcize the spirit of Strindberg as she sees him today. Unbelievably gutsy, clever, and deep, this is an adaptation that would be a spectacle for audiences (so many oranges!) and will guarantee you'll never blindly accept "Miss Julie" as-is ever again. This is my kind of adaptation. I just love it.
  • Miss R.R.Hood Versus The Wolf.
    13 Jan. 2022
    A terrific take on the LIttle Red Riding Hood story, which flips the big finish right on its head with a knowing Little Red and a Wolf who isn't at all what he seems. Plenty of world-building in the nursery rhymes world, and lots of fun to be had with some great physical comedy.
  • Mary Pickford First Breaks Her Silence (1 minute play)
    13 Jan. 2022
    I love a good one-minute play, that gets right to the point and surprises at the end. The beautifully described stage directions sets a clear picture and plenty for the actor to play with portraying the virginal-looking Mary Pickford, which is paid off wonderfully with the big ending. What fun!
  • Barking Mad at the End of the World
    13 Jan. 2022
    This feels like a prompt card you'd find in a writing class - Carnival Barker after the Apocalypse - but Stephen Fruchtman does more than just take on the challenge, he mines it for all it's worth. The very idea of bombs dropping and nations crumbling is not enough to stop this fast-talking charlatan from convincing his fellow survivors to part with their meagre (and likely useless?) money to attend his House of Fun. But you don't want to haggle... Really nicely done, and with a terrific punch to finish.
  • Ride
    13 Jan. 2022
    The pressures on high school athletes can be extreme: those hoping for scholarships on the same team as kids who have been playing for the love of it but aren't nearly as talented. This can fracture friendships as the frustration mounts and the dream of professional careers are in danger. In this deft three-hander, Gabby Wilson gives voice to three types of high school soccer players: the star, the lesser light, and the cruelly injured. As they dump their frustrations on to each other, they find that perhaps they are not as far apart as they thought. Nicely done.
  • The Battle of Wills
    13 Jan. 2022
    When a William Shakespeare meets a William Shatner at a costume party, the two alpha men make it very clear: there can be only one! In this witty two-hander, Shakespeare and Shatner (or at least the guys in the costumes) fence, recite, and woo, all to prove their dominance. Plenty of fun to be had here!
  • Little Lamb
    13 Jan. 2022
    A gentle, intimate piece that portrays an important lesson of a conversation between father and daughter. Darius has clearly seen some things in his time but his patience to pass on what he has learned will set Haley in good stead. EP Klopp does a great job of delineating between blithe innocence and hard-bitten experience, and allowing both to influence the other. Quiet and effective. Nicely done.

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