There are those that will say that I'm taking a silly piece of theater, played for the laughs, too seriously.
Chris Jones, of the Chicago Tribune, wrote: "Despite all those portentous doctoral dissertations on the subversiveness of the Theatre of the Ridiculous, this is not dramatic profundity. Not any more. There is really one criteria upon which 'Irma Vep' now need be judged. Is it funny? Oh, yes. You will laugh your face off."
On the other hand, the origins of the play and the period in history that it came from are, I think, too important to simply dismiss. All those portentous doctoral dissertations, Chris? Gosh, and one would think that after eight years of a dumbed down government, theater critics would've kept a touch of intellectual integrity...
On a slightly similar note, Tom Garvey recently pointed out, as politely as he could, that Ed Siegel, the former lead drama critic for our own Boston Globe, had trouble identifying characters and dramatic elements in the ART's production of Punchdrunk's Sleep No More. This is Tom in the comments section:
This only makes hapless Ed's review all the more ridiculous - he was actually talking to someone from Rebecca, not Macbeth; he'd wandered into the "Hitchcock" side of Sleep No More without knowing it (or perceiving it). In that a central concern of "hypertheatre" is mimicking the interpenetrations of "hypertext," this is rather a large critical gaffe.
Then again, none of the Boston critics pondering Sleep No More seems to have considered its hyper-textual aspects - although btw, Siegel may have missed a secondary piece of hyper-script in the performance he witnessed. While he was wondering about whether or not poor Poornima Kirby was going to take her clothes off, she was whispering to him a tale that sounds a lot like a scene from Büchner's Woyzeck. Not that Ed should have recognized that, after all he's only a professional drama critic . . .
(Emphasis Mine in Both Quotes.)
Of course, Tom and Don are talking about slightly different things. Siegel seems to not be able to tell the players without a program, and Jones seems to be thumbing his nose at pretentious academia.