The Vermont Plays, Annie Baker, 2012 

Baker’s four plays that take place in the imaginary Shirley, Vermont were written between 2008-2012 and performed at the Weston Playhouse, in three Boston theaters and in NYC.  For these and her two subsequent plays (Flick and John) she won the Pulitzer, three Obies for best new American play, several Drama Critics nominations, and a MacArthur genius grant.  The Vermont Plays include The Aliens, Circle Mirror Transformation, Nocturama, and Body Awareness and are marked by silences, pauses, and clipped dialogue.  A rather bleak picture of life’s downsides with domestic violence, addiction and opioid death, mental illness and breakdowns, unsuccessful love affairs and frustrated goals makes these tough reading, but strong and effective.  A bit of Pinter, a dash of Beckett and a thoroughly original American dramatist.  One weird element is that there are Jewish characters in every play which is more typical of NYC than Shirley, Vermont.  Go figure.