Our show was reviewed in the August edition of The Buzz, under the headline Mature Content. I thought I'd post my thoughts on the review.
If I had any criticisms of 'theatre reviews' in The Buzz (and, of course, on those rare occasions that a review of a "local" show actually appears in The Guardian), it would have been that they were not reviews so much, but, generally, endorsements written by a fan/friend of the people involved in the show being reviewed. On a small island, where so many in the arts community know each other, it's difficult to be willing to make negative comments on a production. To this end, reviews have become little more than another form of advertising (and, it should be noted, for productions with such limited budgets as ours, they are welcome advertisements). With this in mind, I'd like to applaud The Buzz, and reviewer Jane Ledwell for writing a review that actually contains more than laudatory comments and fluffy praise. In fact, I find, lately, that The Buzz seems to be more willing to print 'critical (and fair)' reviews than it has been in the past. This is good.
I cannot really complain about most of the criticisms that Jane offers. Generally the comments she makes are valid for the opening week performance that she saw. There are a few points she makes that I disagree with, but these are merely point-of-view, or matter-of-taste comments, and her view and taste is just as valid as mine.
Some things I would like to address, though:
- "They need to drop the pop culture impressions and bad accents-other-than-the-Island-one (which risked being obscure, absurd, racist, or poorly executed)." I was (along with the rest of the people in the production) confused by this sentence. I was not sure what "pop culture impressions" we do, or what "bad accents" she was referring to. The somewhat troublesome implication that we "risked being... racist" raised a few eyebrows within our group as well, as we couldn't figure out to what Jane was referring. Her reply to an email questioning that implication left us, frankly, dumbfounded. I don't think it's fair to Jane to reprint her response here without her permission. Perhaps it will suffice to say that her interpretation of a certain character's origins and purpose is surely hers alone, and maybe speaks more about the need to analyse and find meanings behind comedy than it does about the intentions in making comedy. Sometimes a funny voice and costume is simply a funny voice and costume.
-"I was just disappointed that “Sketch-22” alienated part of its audience with crude material when the truly “mature” content still had edge and still got laughs." This is a fair comment, we have found out. It was, perhaps, unfortunate that Jane saw the show during the first week of our run. We have since realised that some of the crude material was a bit too juvenile or shocking-for-shock's-sake. After week one, the show was cleaned up (and shortened) somewhat, so hopefully, we've found a better balance between taste and distaste.
- "Rob provides the show’s most truly “mature” content". I hope this means what I think it means, and it's not just another way of saying that I'm the oldest in the cast. :)
- I'll not comment on her wish to see more Seagalls or shamless hussies.
After reading the review a couple of times, I'm still not sure if Jane liked the show. She says she wore herself out laughing and that the show is hilarious for those not easily offended. This implies she liked it, yet the general tone of the review seems, to me, to somewhat bely that laughter and hilarity. Maybe it's just my frail ego reading too much into the criticisms?
Still, apart from that one mis-guided opinion on us risking racism, I appreciate very much having a person write critically about our show.
Thanks, Jane. And, thanks, The Buzz.