Recommended by Toby Malone

  • Top Shelf Tolstoy
    4 May. 2021
    Max Gill shows us his mastery of the short comic form with this sparkling piece that imagines a library that makes up its budget shortfall by converting into a full-service bar, that has everything you'd ever want... except books. Always fun to dip in to Max's work, and this kept up a very long streak of excellence.
  • Women Who Hate Their Jobs
    4 May. 2021
    Finding a career is such a tenuous process that often we look around and think "THIS is what I've been working towards?" or "how did I get HERE?" Leah Roth Barsanti explores these existential moments with nine snappy, sometimes soul-destroying stories, sometimes glimmering with some hope but usually shrouded in the reality of hating the job you have. I love the stage direction that suggests a tenth scene, as yet unwritten, to be contributed by a high schooler's essay, rewarded with a scholarship to ensure that they do not grow up to a job they hate. Good work.
  • Wine Soiree
    4 May. 2021
    What starts out as a goofy, boozy buddy play featuring wine drunk through straws, mutual admiration, and riddles, gets a twist when it is revealed what Darla's and Aggie's actual jobs were. Left without her guardian angels (too busy with the abovementioned activities!), Sonya's dead. And she's not happy about it. A light, cheerful, surprising short about problem-solving, buzzed guardian angels with plenty of heart.
  • The Apothecary
    4 May. 2021
    Daniel Prillaman comes through again with an atmospheric period piece that raises more questions than it answers - in the best way. Prillaman employs the unsaid beautifully, right from the opening stage directions that set us in a village "too small for a name", and hints at a pivotal point in the lives of his characters, on precipice of disaster or salvation. Impressively, he never tips over into the temptation of taking the audience by the hand, but rather allows us to wonder about what will be revealed when the sun finally rises.
    4 May. 2021
    An utterly stunning, intricate, and wise take on the Shakespearean authorship question, in a sense. Monica Cross gives us a wonderfully nuanced historical sci-fi piece peppered with references for the knowing, which suggests that Shakespeare's sudden appearance and abrupt end on the London theatre scene came because he was not born, but made. I was continually thrilled with Cross's clever incorporation of elements from the era, including quotations, events, and rivals: the justification for the Q1 'Hamlet' text made me laugh with glee. This is such smart writing, efficient yet ambitious. I had a thoroughly great time.
  • The Vultures
    4 May. 2021
    Just when you think you've seen every permutation of adaptation, along comes 'The Vultures,' a brilliant spin on a nearly-forgotten 1940s noir detective novel, told from the perspective of a committee of vultures who watch our sly-talking gumshoe and the hitchhiking dame he's picked up as they drive through the parched Mojave Desert. Here, the vultures are a Greek Chorus, if a Greek Chorus were desperate to eat the rest of the actors. There's such glory in the period-specific tones and phrases, a snippet from a longer story that is seriously satisfying in its own right. Stellar.
  • From the Perspective of a Canoe
    3 May. 2021
    This is a bold, deeply layered dark comedy that asks a question so obvious I can't believe I'd never thought about before: in the aftermath of a mass shooting, what about the family of the perpetrator? Those saddled with guilt and anger and fear, who have to face the brunt of the community's hatred but can never fully grieve on their own? Dellagiarino skilfully navigates this terrain with a killer set piece (a canoe the traumatized Tess never exits) and a grill that is tantalizingly never lit. A beautifully clever script around an extraordinarily difficult subject. I'm very impressed.
  • The Active Oval
    30 Apr. 2021
    A great two-hander that explores an admirable depth of information in only a few pages, where two strangers meet in a park and offer gestures of conciliation and friendship, never pushing too far but also never afraid to include moments of levity or awkwardness. It's lovely to see a piece where two people can lean on one another and offer friendship.
    30 Apr. 2021
    My favorite part of Emma Goldman-Sherman's 'Date Night?' are the stage directions that indicate how the actors might react if the audience does the right thing - that is, step in to defend a woman who feels unsafe. Each time it happens, the actor's reaction depends on whether the audience is placid (likely) or protective (rare). We are so conditioned to freeze in situations where we should step in that when we are offered multiple opportunities we often can't see them until it's too late. But if they take the chance? What a theatrical experience lies ahead!
  • Bottle Episode
    30 Apr. 2021
    From a play that begins with bottle puns and longing memories of a 7-Eleven cooler, Max Gill flips the switch and gives us a highly theatrical comment on climate change and environmental catastrophe. An especially delightful turn comes from an unexpectedly moody bird who ponders their function in existential terms. A great fun acting challenge for any group.