Best scripts for table reads with friends?
April 4, 2020 9:49 AM   Subscribe

My group of friends and I want to start socializing by doing Zoom table reads of different scripts and screenplays. What are your suggestions?

I'm trying to find scripts that:
- are funny and clever
- are mostly dialogue-based
- are ensembles

We are doing Clue next, and are also thinking about Pulp Fiction. We've already done:
- Casablanca - big hit but required lots of rotation of parts to keep things balanced
- Princess Bride - bad idea, tons of stage directions that got very tedious
- Noises Off - meh
- various Shakespeare
posted by thelastpolarbear to Society & Culture (19 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Ooh Clue is a good idea.

I'll be following this thread - the first things that came to mind were The Thin Man and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:55 AM on April 4, 2020

Closer by Patrick Marber. Four main characters, plenty of drama, some great dialogue to chew.
posted by mani at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2020 [2 favorites]

Oscar (1991)
posted by pyro979 at 9:56 AM on April 4, 2020

LACMA does a Live Read series that you could use for ideas. Here are the ones they've done.

They've done Big Lebowski twice, so I recommend that. They've also done tv pilots (in their case Breaking Bad) so you might consider those too, especially since at <60 minutes you might avoid it getting tedious.
posted by bluecore at 10:08 AM on April 4, 2020

How about radio dramas? Here's Orson Welles' The War of the Worlds, if that's not too close to reality at the moment. You could assign one person to do sound effects.
posted by roger ackroyd at 10:27 AM on April 4, 2020

The History Boys has a fantastic ensemble script, although (given its subject-matter) it is written for a predominantly male cast.
posted by sueinnyc at 10:41 AM on April 4, 2020

Ugh. Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. So funny. Exceedingly clever. A million layers to unpack.
posted by BlahLaLa at 10:48 AM on April 4, 2020 [1 favorite]

Escaped Alone by Caryl Churchill is my favourite play ever and would be fun because the dialogue is so unusual. It’s shot through with some appropriately apocalyptic (given the current situation) scenes interspersed with amazingly sparse but expressive dialogue between four woman in their 70s, sitting in a suburban garden. So much to love, unusual to have four older women as characters, only about 50 minute running time.
posted by penguin pie at 10:49 AM on April 4, 2020

PS - If you’re in charge of casting, bag yourself Mrs Jarrett - played in the original by the wonderful Linda Bassett, she gets the apocalyptic monologues to herself.
posted by penguin pie at 10:50 AM on April 4, 2020

Law & Order scripts are just right for having about 6 people, as that's how many core castmembers there usually are (with about 4 leads and 2 supporting), regardless of which series. Beyond that, though, they usually don't have more than 4-5 people talking together, so you can maintain your cop and DA characters while the others sub in. L&O had a weird budget where they could cram a shit-ton of varied speaking parts into an episode, so everyone will be encouraged to do voices; it just takes a bit of work up front to make sure that, a person isn't voicing too many characters in one scene.

I podcast weekly with 4-5 other people, and we did an episode, and it was challenging fun.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:52 AM on April 4, 2020

(er, not really an ensemble...but so good)
posted by the_blizz at 11:06 AM on April 4, 2020

I was just looking to see if Noel Coward is public domain and found this website that doesn't have any Coward but does have some Shaw, which is witty and might be fun.
posted by less of course at 11:12 AM on April 4, 2020

Oh, golly. Here's The Importance of Being Earnest, public domain on Project Gutenberg.
posted by less of course at 11:14 AM on April 4, 2020

George Bernard Shaw: Pygmalion (source for My Fair Lady) or Major Barbara (should worthwhile causes accept money from bad people?).
posted by Botanizer at 1:44 PM on April 4, 2020

The Lion in Winter is perfect for situations like this. Witty, lots of juicy roles and almost no stage direction.
posted by Parasite Unseen at 3:15 PM on April 4, 2020

Sweet Smell of Success (Ernest Lehman and Clifford Odets)
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 3:33 PM on April 4, 2020

monty python, faulty towers?
posted by stray at 7:17 PM on April 4, 2020

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