Monday, May 21, 2012

The good & bad of Scott as a theater reviewer

Well, I have a review site (where this post will mirror) - and I review.  I have done it for other sites and still do, occasionally post to them.  So I am a semi-professional at this.
People have said, how did you get into / what was your background?  Well, I got into when someone  who read a few blurbs I wrote on Nincompoopery asked me to review a show.  So, short answer, pure luck!  I have a good voice of the average person.
Yet... with my background, comes the lack of training in Theater.  The good and the bad sides of it.  today both happened to be displayed to me in the pages of the NY Times.
The bad - I don't get some stuff...
Today's NY Times Review has a review of Title and Deed from Charles Isherwood (whom I admire greatly).  I really disliked Title and Deed.  I mean really.  And I wasn't alone, nearly all of  the audience was annoyed.  But Mr. Isherwood drew the parallels to Beckett (and in a sensible way).  He makes the play sound like something I would love to see.  He brings a background I don't have.
And the good?  I'm not a pretentious twit.
Today's NY Times has a piece of claptrap (on the Front Page no less!) by the other critic, Ben Bratley.  He was complaining that Broadway Tourists give too many Standing Ovations.  In it he suggests, by turns, that the tourists that visit Broadway give the ovations:
- to try to head for the exits quickly
- because they are cheap and a standing ovation makes them feel like they got their money's worth
- because they can't see the stage otherwise
- or because that horrible show Newsies won't stop dancing until people stand
Aside - Let's just admit for a moment that the depth of his hatred of Newsies is so profound he can't blow his nose without trashing it.  If we all tattoo across our foreheads "Ben Bratley Hates Newsies" will he shut the hell up about it?  Just a question.
He contrasts this sheepish behavior of the unwashed versus the rarefied air of the true enthusiasts of the Theater that attended the Enocre! series where (and I quote)
I should point out that among audiences for musicals, those who attend the Encores! productions are probably the most sophisticated and discriminating in town. Many of them know the history, in detail, of the show they’re seeing and the resumes of those appearing in it. But can't we all. please, strive to be a little more like them?
More annoying words have been writen, but not by me.  And that, is the good of not having a theatre background (with an -re)


Laura said...

As someone who has a theatre background I agree with you. There is a huge amount of claptrap in the critic world (it’s why I never read any criticism before I go and see something). I do however agree that perhaps there may be far too many standing ovations, not just in NYC, but it’s starting to happen in London too. I’m not sure why or who these standers are but I just don’t remember people giving ovations for anything other than the most amazing performances when I was younger.

Oh and PS Newsies deserves every ovation it gets!

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