I find myself once again brushing up against a recurring theme of this blog – how a theatrical or performance experience is different when you know or are connected to someone involved with the show. And, how or if one (me) writes about their impressions of the performance, especially if it is not perfect or totally complimentary.
There are forms of theatre that thrive on this pre-existing knowledge (hello, Self Revelatory Performance!) but I’ve found that it can be positive and negative in more “mainstream” theatre settings. I had the situation happen to me in both my 1st and 3rd shows of this year, which featured individuals I know from my alma mater, Hampshire College.
In the first show of the year, Copenhagen, seen at the Flat Earth Theatre (a company created by several fellow Hampshire theatre alumni, visiting in The Factory Theatre in Boston) on January 13th, I liked the space and initial staging choices, but wanted more to happen from the play itself, which became a series of evolving and repeating circles in the small in-the-round space. Meanwhile, a small stage in another part of the room was only briefly used and moments of dramatic tension did not seem to reach their full potential. I should have written more immediately following the show, but my main point was that I wanted the show to take me in (as an audience member) more than it did.
In the third play, Fallow, seen last night at the People’s Light & Theatre Company in Malvern, PA, and featuring a fellow Hampshire theatre alum in a lead role, I felt the script and direction did not present a unified approach to the material. I checked out some of the reviews of the show after seeing it, and found that I essentially agreed with the Philadelphia Inquirer, so here is their review.
Critics must know some actors personally in the professional world. How do they manage writing about them – a code of silence, gung-ho disregard, careful consideration, review by an editor, or some combination of all those options?