Of course it’s tremendous to see a play on stage, but reading a play, its script, is a pleasure in its own right. I think for many of us the notion of reading plays was ruined in high school, what with the dreadful, hackneyed line-by-line dissection of Romeo and Juliet and Our Town led by an uninspired instructor. If you haven’t read a play lately, it’s time to pick one up and let your imagination soar. Here are some of my favorites—both on the page and on the stage.
- The Goat by Edward Albee
What’s taboo? What should be? Who are any of us to judge? This is my favorite play of all time. I was lucky to see Sally Field in a production—watching her stomp her feet in anger because her husband might be in love with a goat was tremendous.
- The Shadow Box by Michael Cristofer
I first encountered this play at seventeen. Lucky me—it changed how I thought of death and taught me to put the dying at the center of the experience… a radical thought, still. The dying have so much to teach us about how to live. As does this play.
- Proof by David Auburn
Auburn wrote this with the riveting Mary-Louise Parker in mind for the part and she graced the play by taking the part. I saw her in it three times. She was remarkable—in a career of standout performances, this ranks among her finest. And as much as I love her and the stage production, the written play outdoes it.
- Blackbird by David Harrower
I’M GOING TO SEE THIS NEXT MONTH AND AM SO EXCITED. I’ve read it several times and each times it illuminates new corners of what it means to be victim and what it means to perpetrate, and most of all, what it means to survive. DID I TELL YOU I’M GOING TO SEE IT WITH MY FRIEND CRAIG? AND THAT JEFF DANIELS AND MICHELLE WILLIAMS ARE STARRING? AND THAT I’M SO EXCITED?
- A Language of Their Own by Chay Yew
Reading this play—which is witty as hell—will break your heart. What is it that can threaten to break even the seemingly strongest love? Two men who seem made for each other find out.
- Last Summer at Bluefish Cove by Jane Chambers
The summer season in an East Coast beach town is already combustible—we’ve got a short window before the water runs cold and the chilly wind blows. Add in the complexities of modern friendship and Lil, who is dying of cancer, and the human condition will unravel before you.
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