Thursday, May 25, 2006

The Collection, Gorgeous Avatar and Children's Festival

Been a bit slow adding to my website a couple of theatre reviews I did recently. Follow the links for an impressive revival of Mike Cullen's The Collection by Rapture Theatre and a second review of Jules Horne's Gorgeous Avatar at Edinburgh's Traverse.

Talking of which, Horne's Gorgeous Avatar blog includes information about all aspects of the production process, but no comment on the critical reaction. For a first-time writer, having your work reviewed, favourably or otherwise, must be a novel experience and it would have been interesting to read Horne's reactions on the blog.

But, unlike Catherine Czerkawska whose Wordarts blog talked about the critical response to a play she wrote for A Play, a Pie and a Pint a few months ago, the Gorgeous Avatar blog is silent. That's because it's as much the work of the Traverse Theatre's marketing department as it is of Horne herself and, for perfectly good reasons, the company doesn't want to get into a tit-for-tat spat between critics and writer.

There is a problem about artists responding to critical comments because they're always going to have a vested interest in defending their work. It's too easy for them to sound biased, deranged, defensive, hurt, blinkered, etc - whether or not they are any of those things. This is frustrating because reviews should be the start of a discussion not the end of one. And the blogosphere is the perfect arena for such a discussion to take place.

Czerkawka's most recent post is about her reactions to the TAG/National Theatre of Scotland production of The Crucible (links to my reviews on my National Theatre of Scotland page). I happen to agree with her assessment, but that's not the point. What would be healthy is if more people - critics, artists, audience - joined in the discussion.

But before you do that, do check out the Bank of Scotland Children's International Theatre Festival this week. So far I've seen The Giraffe's Journey, a bonkers Italian show performed in a home-made hut, Them with Tails, hilarious improvisational storytelling by Tall Stories, and Shopping for Shoes, an excellent if too short story about the pressures of global capitalism by Visible Fictions.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree that a review should be the start of a discussion. Several months ago I responded by e-mail to two reviews Mark had written about a production I had directed. I felt he had seriously misjudged the play (and I stress I was referring to the play rather than my production) and had done the playwright a disservice. I would have been delighted to have had a discussion but sadly I never received a response.