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DPS Book Club Script Reviews – May 2021 Box

DPS Book Club Script Reviews – May 2021 Box

I thoroughly enjoyed my first DPS Book Club box and I’m looking forward to receiving my next one this upcoming week. Check out these amazing plays that were included in the May box!

LOVE ALONE by DEBORAH SALEM SMITH

Brief Summary: When Helen’s lesbian partner of twenty years dies unexpectedly in minor surgery, Helen and her daughter want answers. Confused by the hospital’s silence around the death, they bring a lawsuit against the doctors. Now Dr. Becca Neal must confront her feelings about losing her patient while she juggles the demands of a lawsuit. LOVE ALONE tracks the fallout in both the patient’s and the doctor’s homes, as both households navigate uncharted waters of anger, humor, and longing. This powerful story of how we grieve and how we heal speaks to an essential truth: We will all be patients one day. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: This script touches really well on grief and learning to understand grief and understand your place with it.  Having lost a parent I identify with some of the moving forward and feeling lost that Clementine feels throughout the script. I feel like we don’t learn enough about Becca and JP, but seeing both sides of the lawsuit really shows the humanity of loss from different angles. It’s a truly wonderful script.

Recommendations: I would love to see this performed in an outdoor space. I think the ideas of longing and loneliness would be really interesting to see in a space that has no walls.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library or Dramatists Play Service for Availability

WINTER BREAK by JOE CALARCO

Brief Summary: Time: Now. Place: A town in the United States of America where Winter is cold. Winter Break has just begun. Alternately hilarious and touching, the play follows nineteen teenagers, some who know each other, some who don’t, as they wrestle with friendships, breakups, loss, graduation, and their place in the world. WINTER BREAK is the 2020 Educational Theatre Association commission. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: I love how fluid this script is with casting. 19 characters and every single one is fluid in regards to race, gender, sexual orientation, ability, etc, etc. This script surprised me because I usually don’t like scripts that have so many characters. It gives me a bit of anxiety when I have to remember so many characters and their stories, but these characters are all woven together so well, that it wasn’t hard to keep all of the stories straight.

Recommendations: This script is meant for high school students in a high school setting. That’s what it was written for and I don’t see it performed anywhere else. Please don’t try to perform it with college students acting as high school students, it is meant for teenagers.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library or Dramatists Play Service for Availability

CHARLES FRANCIS CHAN JR’S EXOTIC ORIENTAL MURDER MYSTERY by LLOYD SUH

Brief Summary: In 1967, Berkeley grad student Frank Chan and his artist-activist girlfriend Kathy Ching are staging a revolution. Amid the backdrop of ongoing war in Vietnam and a peak in the Civil Rights movement, they devise a wild, impulsive theatrical trip through the history of Asians in America, from the ancestral railways of their forebears to the shameful legacy of Charlie Chan stereotypes, all in pursuit of establishing a brand new political identity they’ve decided to call “Asian America.” CHARLES FRANCIS CHAN JR.’S EXOTIC ORIENTAL MURDER MYSTERY is a harmless sing-song orientalist minstrel show that ends in a grotesque carnival of murder!!! (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: My favorite character in this script is the Monkey. Something about how matter of fact they are in every line they speak, spoke to me and I really appreciated that character. I love the commentary on racism and how the issue of racism is approached in this script, particularly pertaining to the AAPI community (which I don’t feel like I have seen enough of).

Recommendations: I don’t think I have any specific recommendations for this script except to do it and cast race appropriately, as written.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library or Dramatists Play Service for Availability

GOD SAID THIS by LEAH NANAKO WINKLER

Brief Summary: When Masako is diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of uterine cancer, her dispersed family is brought back to their Kentucky hometown to care for her. Hiro, the older daughter and a New York City transplant, struggles to make peace with the demons she inherited; the younger daughter, Sophie, negotiates her faith in the face of her mother’s illness and her own broken dreams; their father, James, is a recovering alcoholic seeking forgiveness and redemption; and a friend, John, worries about the legacy he’ll be able to leave his only son. Forced together in a time of need, five estranged people come face to face with their own mortality. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: This is a beautiful script about the complexities of family, particularly with grown children. I wish I had more specifics to say about it, but this script is one of those that simply speaks for itself. I’m left speechless

Recommendations: I would love to see this in a blackbox. It doesn’t need anything fancy. In a simple blackbox setting, the emotions would be so raw the intimacy between the story and the audience would just be automatic.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library, Dramatists Play Service, or Amazon for Availability

FAIRVIEW by JACKIE SIBBLIES DRURY

Brief Summary: At the Frasier household, preparations for Grandma’s birthday party are underway. Beverly is holding on to her sanity by a thread to make sure this party is perfect, but her sister can’t be bothered to help, her husband doesn’t seem to listen, her brother is MIA, her daughter is a teenager, and maybe nothing is what it seems in the first place…! FAIRVIEW is a searing examination of families, drama, family dramas, and the insidiousness of white supremacy. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: I can’t give too much away because the storytelling techniques used in this script are brilliant and the way this script is constructed is something I have never seen before. It is beautiful, brilliant, and extremely thought-provoking.

Recommendations: See this play. Don’t read it. I mean, if you don’t have a chance to see it, then absolutely read it. But if seeing it is an option, see before reading.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library, Dramatists Play Service, or Amazon for Availability

THE TRIP TO BOUNTIFUL by HORTON FOOTE

Brief Summary: Horton Foote’s moving play tells the story of Carrie Watts, an elderly woman, who longs to escape the cramped Houston apartment where she lives with her protective son, Ludie, and her authoritarian daughter-in-law, Jessie Mae. Carrie wants to return to her beloved hometown of Bountiful, Texas, one final time before she dies. While Ludie is at work and Jessie Mae is at the drugstore, Carrie escapes to the bus station and befriends a young woman named Thelma. The new friends travel toward Bountiful together, but when Carrie arrives in nearby Harrison, Texas, she begins to learn that her beloved town isn’t the same as she remembered it. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: When reading this script I couldn’t help but remember the lyrics to a favorite song of mine, “Take me home, country roads, to the place I belong.” My heart went out to Carrie the whole time because all she wanted to do was go home. I love that this script seems to morph the idea of home from a location to a feeling as it goes on. This script really demonstrates that home is where the heart is.

Recommendations: I wonder what this would look like at a university as an educational theatre production. The idea of home and longing to return home is one that I’m sure many college students are familiar with as they go back and forth between school and home throughout their time in school.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library, Dramatists Play Service, or Amazon for Availability

BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY by PEARL CLEAGE

Brief Summary: It is the summer of 1930 in Harlem, New York. The creative euphoria of the Harlem Renaissance has given way to the harsher realities of the Great Depression. Young Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., is feeding the hungry and preaching an activist gospel at Abyssinian Baptist Church. Black Nationalist visionary Marcus Garvey has been discredited and deported. Birth control pioneer Margaret Sanger is opening a new family planning clinic on 126th Street, and the doctors at Harlem Hospital are scrambling to care for a population whose most deadly disease is poverty. The play brings together a rich cast of characters who reflect the conflicting currents of the time through their overlapping personalities and politics. Set in the Harlem apartment of Guy, a popular costume designer, and his friend, Angel, a recently fired Cotton Club back-up singer, the cast also includes Sam, a hard-working, jazz-loving doctor at Harlem Hospital; Delia, an equally dedicated member of the staff at the Sanger clinic; and Leland, a recent transplant from Tuskegee, who sees in Angel a memory of lost love and a reminder of those “Alabama skies where the stars are so thick it’s bright as day.” Invoking the image of African-American expatriate extraordinaire, Josephine Baker as both muse and myth, Cleage’s characters struggle, as Guy says, “to look beyond 125th Street” for the fulfillment of their dreams. (Source: Dramatists Play Service)

Praise/Critique: The characters in this script are so wonderfully crafted. They are distinct people with clear goals in life and strong arcs from beginning to end. The characterization in this script is a major player in the script as a whole and casting it would be extremely important because the casting could make or break performances of this script.

Recommendations: I would love to see this script performed at a theatre with a medium to high budget and done in a realistic way. I think there’s a lot about the script that I didn’t understand and I’d love to see it to hopefully understand it better.

Rating: ✩✩✩✩

Check your Local Library, Dramatists Play Service, or Amazon for Availability

For more about how and why I write script reviews, take a look at the introduction to this series!

 

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