Molly Horan
July 27, 2014 1:20 pm

If you’re looking for a little (literally) light reading, the perfect place to start is the theater. Plays are short, thin volumes you can polish off in a day, they’re just as moving and funny as any novel, and they’ll fly off your to-read list. Plus, you’ll totally own the Broadway category at your next pub quiz. These are just some of the best.

1. Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead By Bert Royal

What would the Peanuts gang be like as angsty teenagers? That’s what Bert V. Royal’s very dark comedy tries to answer. But with Snoopy dead, Sally an eccentric aspiring actress and Charlie Brown involved in a dangerous love triangle, it’s unlikely Peanuts: All Grown-Up will ever make an appearance in a holiday special.

2. The Crucible By Arthur Miller

If you didn’t have to read the Miller classic in high school (or if you did and decided on Sparknotes and TRL over great literature), it’s well worth checking out. The story of the Salem witch trials is a metaphor for McCarthyism but it also works as a story of mass hysteria and crazy exes.

3. The Importance of Being Earnest By Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde wasn’t just good at creating witty quotes for your Facebook profile. First and foremost, he was a brilliant playwright, and his classic comedy about mistaken identity is a great place to start if you’re going to dig into his body of work.

4. In the Next Room (or the Vibrator Play) By Sarah Ruhl

Come on, aren’t you curious enough to pick up of a copy of the Vibrator Play based on the title alone? The play takes place in Victorian New York City when women were thought to suffer from hysteria, a catch-all diagnosis for “fragile” women. Luckily, their nerves could be tamed with a nifty new device women can now pick-up at your local Rite Aid. The comedy is told with a focus on a doctor who invented the vibrator and his curious wife.

5. August: Osage County By Tracy Letts

Before it was a vehicle for Meryl Streep to earn her latest Oscar nod (and remind you just how old Abigail Breslin is now), it was a heartbreaking play about an extremely dysfunctional family. Just don’t expect a touching reconciliation at the end, just secrets that add yet another layer of trouble.

6. Doubt: A Parabel By John Patrick Shanley

On the surface, it’s a story about the pedophile scandal in the Catholic church, but really it’s about the fronts people put up and the very real doubts you can have even with the strongest convictions. Read the play before you watch the movie, which stars Amy Adams and, yet again, Meryl Streep.

7. A Raisin in the Sun By Lorraine Hansberry

The play gets its name, and its theme, from the Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred.” The story of a African-American family in the 1950s chasing after their dreams, some big and some humble. The play’s protagonist Walter Younger has been played by a wide range of actors, from Sean Combs to Denzel Washington.

Featured image courtesy of Miramax Films

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