Friday, May 22, 2009

Spoiler Alert?

Critic Wendy Rosenfield ponders the advantages and disadvantages to reading a script before reviewing a production:

Yesterday, I had a conversation with my editor about the practice of reading scripts ahead of a performance--a performance I'm supposed to review. Lately, I've been trying to make that a regular practice, but also lately I've discovered I'm having trouble bottling a sense of spontaneity in my reviews. Coincidence?


Today's review, of the Wilma Theater's production of Terry Johnson's Hysteria, begins with a direct comparison between the script and its staged counterpart. In this case, I felt the comparison was absolutely fair. After all, if a play jumps off the page, it ought to similarly jump off the stage. I discussed the issue some more with my editor, who concluded that reading the script beforehand might have caused me to cut the production some extra slack. So what to do?

1 comment:

Ian Thal said...

Must all theatre critics use the same review techniques? I always felt that the post show discussion, whether with friends over coffee, or in the blogosphere, benefitted from the fact that the audience members (and I include the critics) have different perspectives, and quite possibly agree only on the importance of theatre.

I find it interesting when I enjoy a staging of a classic that I've never seen before (and feel that I can articulate that enjoyment) while somebody who is equally (if not more) articulate but has seen several productions of the same play finds it mediocre or a misguided interpretation.