By Bob Hicks
And on the second morning he got up, made coffee, and wrote his review, which was subsequently published (the review, not the coffee) in The Oregonian. And the review praised some and quibbled some, and was not, in the terminology of the great god Variety, boffo.
And lo, the director, Chris Coleman, took issue (firmly but very politely) in an email message to the reviewer. And Mr. Coleman made some worthy points.
And on the next day Mr. Scatter replied. And Mr. Coleman replied in return, “Mind if I run this exchange on my blog?” And Mr. Scatter said, “Good idea.” For indeed, it was.
So here you have it: three parts of an exchange that is really about the way we look at theater, and think about it, and write about it (about classic theater in particular), and about the different approaches that the people who make theater and the people who analyze it take to that process. Plus, as a bonus, some thoughts about what a reviewer should do when he senses that pretty much everyone else in the audience disagrees with him.
Chris has gathered the three parts together on his PCS blog, under the title Is My Review Your Review? To get you in the mood to wade into the fray, I’ve included a pertinent teaser from each of the three parts. Comment here, or on Chris’s blog, or preferably on both (that’s what the copy-block function’s for):
- The original review, which ran in Monday editions of the paper and online here at Oregon Live: “(F)or all its surface frivolity, something’s missing from Center Stage’s ‘Invalid’ — the sense that what’s happening inside Argan’s anarchic household is connected to the larger culture outside its doors.”
- Chris Coleman’s response: “… I have, of late, found myself impatient with reviewers (the world over) bringing so much of their own ‘expectations’ to a production of a classic, and judging its merits based on what they walked in hoping to see.”
- My response to Chris’s response: “With any adaptation, a pertinent question to ask is whether it is faithful to the original. That’s not necessarily a question of traditionalist versus radical …”
Already our old sidekick Barry Johnson of Arts Dispatch, who put in considerable time in the theater critic’s chair at the Big O, has chipped in with some intriguing thoughts at Coleman’s blog. Give ‘er a look.
Nicolas Mignard, “Portrait of MoliÃ¨re as Julius Ceasar,” 1658. MusÃ©e Carnavalet, Paris. Wikimedia Commons.