Recommended by John Patrick Bray

  • Wooden Snowflakes
    18 Feb. 2022
    Wooden Snowflakes is a soulful, charming, heart-warming Christmas tale of two wounded people trapped together trying to make the most of an evening, of a life! I saw this produced at Barter Theatre a handful of years ago, and it was gorgeous. This is a great two-hander for those who love their Realism with a dash of Christmas Magic.
  • The Sugar Ridge Rag
    14 Feb. 2022
    Williams once again demonstrates his gift for Naturalism. The characters in this play perform a nuanced understanding of each other, resulting in a drama that is deceptively subtle and incredibly rich. I feel like I should mention that I’m a twin, and I feel like I should say whether Philip “got twins right.” I can’t answer that question: each set of twins share their own language and are co-archivists in a mostly shared autobiography (particularly in youth). I can say Williams got these particular twins absolutely right. I love this play and hope to see it produced.
  • The School Dance
    5 Feb. 2022
    Nora Louise Syran has woven together the collective memories of so many of us that have experienced the awkward h*ck that is a middle-school dance, but tinged it with the sweetness that we yearn for when we're too shy to peel ourselves off the wall. I adore this play and hope to see it fully staged, with all of its wonderful suggested choreography.
  • Welcome to Fourbucks
    5 Feb. 2022
    I was a bagel baker for six and a half years. We had someone that worked with us, Annie, a truly funny and warm personality, who always brought me coffee while I was baking. And in the six years we worked together, she never got it right. Not once. Black. I drink black coffee. This one-minute play hit so close to home! Thank you, Philip!
  • The Unjust Sound of Unseen Waves
    4 Feb. 2022
    The Minotaur of Scott Sickles's play is not ugly, not an abomination (as they believe they are). Rather, they are beautiful in the eyes of a kind human who can see through illusion. This is a powerful story about kindness - kindness to others and kindness to ourselves (the Minotaur feels like a metaphor for body dysmorphia, and other forms of self-loathing). Sickles has a gift for creating richly-textured characters and gorgeous dialogue that is both real and beautifully poetic. This play presents fun opportunities for designers and performers, and audiences will be certainly be moved.
  • No More Tea?
    12 Jan. 2022
    I listened to the Shouting in the Evening audio production of this play and it was an absolute riot! I knew some folks here in the States that have Strong Opinions about tea and coffee, and found that warm beverages served incorrectly served as a metonym for Everything Wrong with This Country. And I would be stuck leaving a hefty tip as an apology. This is a truly funny (and cringe inducing) play. Rachel Feeny-Williams has a gift for writing biting dialogue and creating richly drawn characters.
  • WE RIDE AT DAWN! (a monologue)
    9 Jan. 2022
    “Those M&Ms sealed your doom!”
    My wife has a story about how she was sent to bed as a child. About an hour later she got up and saw her parents and older brothers were enjoying ice cream from David’s Cookies. That’s when she knew: people partied when she went to bed!

    And so we have our heroine, a child who has been denied an anticipated show and snacks, because something as dreadful as 8:30PM has happened, and her parents have forced her to observe. This is a wonderful monologue! The invasive larvae were a nice touch.
  • An Invocation To His Muse
    30 Dec. 2021
    Aly Kantor has offered us a lyrical play for two female actors at the top of their game. The play as written perfectly evokes the haunted loneliness of Hopper’s “Automat” while foregrounding the notion that Jo Hopper herself is absent from our conversations despite her undoubted influence on Edward Hopper’s aesthetic. Words that came to mind while reading: absence, loneliness, but not despair. Hope, certainly. And I miss automat cake. The title reminds me of the Tom Waits song Invitation to the Blues (Waits also borrows from Hopper). I love this play and hope to see it staged.
  • That Goddam Tree
    2 Nov. 2021
    I hate that people like this exist, and I applaud Philip for turning a hateful comment into a piece of found art.
    Edit: that was my first reaction.
    Knowing now that this was written as an exercise I’m speechless. I heard the speaker’s voice so clearly it had to be real. I appreciate how other folks responding talk about the humanity and heartache behind the words. What hit for me was how this speaker jumped in as if he had a place in the story and there was no one to stop him. Uncomfortable and well done.
  • It's Not Blood
    22 Oct. 2021
    I grew up in a small town where the rich kids went to college, the poor kids went to the military (unless they found a way into a community college). This play very much hits home. Kim E. Ruyle has a gift for naturalistic dialogue, weaving in exposition in a very active way, sprinkled with Pulp Fiction references (which premiered when I was a senior). Jimmy and Danny's relationship is visceral and real. Ruyle also has a gift for creating fully realized off-stage characters in the late Billy and the boy's parents. The ending is bittersweet. Read this play!

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