Recommended by Toby Malone

  • Woe! Misery! Children's Theater!
    30 Nov. 2021
    The thing I like best about 'Queen Mari's Castle: Live!' is it is very clear that Lisa Dellagiarino Feriend is following her instincts and is listening as the story unfolds. I admire Lisa's willingness to follow the big plot twists to their logical conclusion, and to really lean in to the character building. The figurative hell of a children's theatre tour (we've all been there) is cleverly converted into something more sinister, and LIsa gleefully plays it out to the end. And never forget as you read: half the cast are in dog costumes the whole time...
  • Swallow
    12 Jun. 2021
    Jan Rosenberg writes about important things. Sometimes, 'recovery' can feel like a goal you get to and then everything's fine, like if you "get over" an addiction or a disease or a compulsion then your life is somehow "fixed" or "normal" again. Jan does such a beautiful job of disabusing us of this notion: where past affliction is always replaced with present scars and future, unanticipated parallel habits. Here, "recovery" feels like a mirage, attainable but impossible, where there are new worries to slip in its place. Unflinching and real. Important.
  • The Oktavist
    9 Jun. 2021
    A movingly layered historical short wherein a young man expresses his intent to join the church choir, and not in just any position, but in the hardest position of all to sing, based on an epiphany that he does not understand. Finely crafted and thoughtfully phrased, Gatton does an excellent job of never overplaying his hand, but asks the audience to either interpret his words on their surface meaning, or to look deeper for greater nuance. A strong, effective piece.
  • She Tunes the Violin: The Life of Martha Jefferson
    9 Jun. 2021
    As a non-American, this play took me twice as long to read as it should because I kept having to pause to check historical details, and I can truly say I've learned so much by reading it. In Lisa's usual style, this play is conversational, quippy, and jocular, but still holds a great sense of gravity and respect for its subject matter. Martha Jefferson is celebrated for the sacrifices she made for her notorious husband, and is touchingly elevated to show that it was all worth something. A wonderful historical fiction that breathes real life into its subjects.
  • Sock Puppet Fetish Noir
    8 Jun. 2021
    Ever wondered where your missing socks go when they vanish from the dryer? And ever wondered about whether investigating those missing socks through an elaborate role-playing kink involving detective noir sock puppets? Well, of course you haven't, which is what makes the angle Kelly McBurnette-Andronicos takes so refreshing and fun here. Visual humor cranked up to ten, puns everywhere, and a great closing line.
  • Friends IRL
    8 Jun. 2021
    A succinct, honest take on the ways in which friendships evolve - sometimes they fade away on their own, but sometimes they get a little... nudge. Here, the very direct Lula calls out her now-Facebook-only friend Dan on losing track of her and surrendering to toxicity. Sometimes a Facebook friend can feel like enough, but it's just not the same as IRL.
  • Joy Frickin' Hates Her Dumb Stupid Room
    8 Jun. 2021
    A rollicking delight of a play that cuts to the core for every one of us who have spent the last year and a half inside because of this frickin' dumb stupid pandemic. It's one thing to write a play about an embittered thirteen year old bemoaning her unfair parents, but to include the hamster reincarnation of the 500-years-dead hellscape artist Hieronymus Bosch? That's a stroke of genius. This is a brilliantly zappy, relevant piece that illustrates exactly what rumbles at the core of every quarantined person - and especially those poor kids. Highly recommended.
  • The Play of Excessive Exposition, Stereotypical Characters, and Cliches
    6 Jun. 2021
    A hoot of a play that proves why playwrights love exposition so much: because it opens up so many new avenues and interesting topics! Over-doing exposition is usually the death-knell to most short plays, but here Neil Ratke offers exposition on exposition, spilling out of every expository lines that leads to far more exposition, that eventually the fault becomes a strength, unwinding a story of such ridiculous depth but you can't help but surrender. Good stuff.
  • Hell Is Empty
    26 May. 2021
    Some friendships run deeper than blood. Time, and experience, and shared memory are a powerful thing, and promises made as kids can become powerful weapons even as we grow into adulthood. In TJ Young's complex work in progress, we see the potential of a setup where long-made promises are cashed in based on 25 year old oaths, where the reality of the action becomes more confronting than anyone could have hoped. This play is a purgative, it is a love song to fraternal bonds. I'm enjoying watching this piece grow and deepen in its developmental process. Come for the ride.
  • No, You Cannot Breathe For A Second.
    13 May. 2021
    When confronted with crisis or a defining moment in time, many people will tell you that they would respond in a certain way: one that is almost certainly unlike how they would actually respond. Dalton Cade Causey interrogates this ideal by using Martin, a time-travelling student to confront a white man, Leonard, who has gained fame in the future by writing that he stepped in the middle of a case of police violence against a black man. Yet every time this instance is replayed, Leonard does not act. A thought-provoking piece of work that questions the way we respond.

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