Playwright George Hunka wrote a very scathing review of 100 Saints You Should Know, which is a production at Playwright's Horizon. Here is just a taste:
100 Saints You Should Know, a play which can only be described as
earth-shatteringly mediocre, opens the Playwrights Horizons 2007-2008 season; one can only call it "a meditation on spiritual life in 21st century America" because, like ill-disciplined meditation, it meanders and hews left-to-right, its dialogue as naturalistically drab as any that has come out of an MFA playwriting program and new play development workshop.
And that's just the nice part. But, the paragraph that has sparked a little debate is the following:
Poor 100 Saints, perhaps -- workshopped within an inch of its
well-intentioned but pale, weak life. I left at
intermission, I'm afraid, not compelled to return by the
tree-injury ex machina that closes the first act...
At Matt Freeman's Blog On Theatre and Politics, he asks about "walking out" on shows. Have we done it? Why? Is it right for reviewers to leave a show? The comments are humming.
However, Leonard Jacobs at Clyde Fitch was the first to point out another ethical condideration about George's review:
I have no opinion regarding the fact that George Hunka isn't exactly
giving burnin' love to Kate Fodor's 100 Saints That You Should Know at Playwrights Horizons. But I do have an opinion about the fact that he published a formal review of the play on his blog, and the play doesn't open until September 18. Talk about breaking the embargo!.....
Now, let's be clear: if a print and Web journalist like myself did
that, oh my God, the walls of Jericho would come crashing down, Lucifer would be salivating to get his claws into me, Dick Cheney would be cackling monstrously and cranking up the burning fires of hell and everyone in the blogosphere would rake me over the coals and attack my ethics and call me names and wonder why my
ancestors didn't burn in the Holocaust. But it's ok for a blogger to publish a formal review before the official opening?
This isn't a review of Young Frankenstein. It's not supposed to be, since Young Frankenstein (adapted from the 1974 Mel Brooks movie, now in a pre-Broadway test production at the Paramount) has been in previews for two weeks and will only be officially open and subject to reviews for one week, starting August 23.
It must be said: This preview situation is tilted toward obscurantism. Reviewers aren't allowed to write about it for most of the run, so people have to guess whether they want to spend $25 or $100 or $0 on their tickets. The producers' argument is: This is a work in progress, we're changing things as we go, it's not fair to review that. That's fine, except ticket buyers aren't told they're paying for previews—unless they look very carefully, they don't know they're paying for a "work in progress." That's disingenuous.