Jared's List of Plays YOU Should Read or See ASAP

Instead of boringly describing the plays in detail, I'll give a quick, one-sentence summary on each. Comedies are in lime green, dramas/tragedies in navy blue. It's important to know that many comedies contain stories of sadness while many dramas feature some humorous scenes and characters. I'm going by which genre it mostly exhibits. Also, there are some great plays out there in languages other than English. . . I'm just not personally familiar with them. It doesn't mean they aren't worth checking out! Plus, there are WAY more great plays out there I didn't get to cover!

Death of a Salesman

by Arthur Miller (1949). The story of a salesman's fall from grace in the eyes of his wife and family, a true classic.

A Raisin in the Sun

by Lorraine Hansberry (1959). A black family struggles with how to spend $10,000 inherited from the deceased father's life insurance; the problem intensifies when the son's wife gets pregnant.

The Odd Couple

by Neil Simon (1965). Two polar opposite roommates— one proper, clean, and uptight; the other, lax and messy— bicker and have misadventures.

Brighton Beach Memoirs

by Neil Simon (1983). A Jewish teenage boy humorously tries to make sense of puberty, sexuality, his family, and his place growing up; full of zippy one-liners and cultural jokes. Also check out Biloxi Blues and Broadway Bound, both sequels.

Long Day's Journey into Night

by Eugene O'Neill (1956). A semi-autobiographical look at a single day in the Tyrone household, where drugs and alcohol abound, leading to chaotic dysfunction.

Joe Turner's Come and Gone

by August Wilson (1984). Part of the "Pittsburgh Cycle," a series of ten Wilson plays chronicling the African-American experience, this one tells the story of boardinghouse owner Seth Holly and the lives of the home's residents. Also check out Fences, another play in Wilson's "Cycle."

The Pillowman

by Martin McDonagh (2003). One of my personal favorites, The Pillowman is a black comedy about a writer whose gruesome short stories about murder begin playing out in real life, and the subsequent police investigation to get to the bottom of the crimes.

Children of a Lesser God

by Mark Medoff (1979). Conflict between a deaf student and her teacher when their professional relatonship becomes romantic; the two have differing views on how the deaf should be taught.

I'm Not Rappaport

by Herb Gardner (1984). Farcical back-and-forth between two elderly gentlemen who love to talk and debate about their various life experiences; has roots in vaudeville routines.

Angels in America

by Tony Kushner (1993). Characters deal with AIDS, homosexuality, drugs, and religion, and an angel visits one character and tells him he is a prophet.

The 39 Steps

by Patrick Barlow (2005). Based on an Alfred Hitchcock film, it's a dark farce about a London murder in which four actors play many different roles.

And Now, The Musicals

I love musicals, and here are some you might love, too. I've included video clips of numbers from several of the shows. Broadway productions strictly prohibit recording devices, so most are taken from TV broadcasts of various Tony Awards.

The Last Five Years

book, music, and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown (2002). My absolute favorite, a love story in which the man travels forward in time and the woman backward, meeting once in the middle.

The Producers

music, and lyrics by Mel Brooks, book by Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan (2001). Hilarious romp about a public accountant and a Broadway producer who team up to put on "the biggest flop in Broadway history" as part of a scam, with absurd results.

Avenue Q

music and lyrics by Robert Lopez and Jeff Marx (2002). Sort of a twisted Sesame Street for adults, residents of the title avenue contemplate their lives— oh, and there are puppets. A MUST-SEE.


book, music, and lyrics by Jonathan Larson (1996). An emotionally-charged rock opera about eight twenty-somethings living in New York and dealing with AIDS, relationships, and struggling to survive. Absolutely addicting music and compelling characters.

And for anyone out there who won't "open their mind" to musicals for some reason, you might enjoy this.