In Praise of Quality Theatre Reviews

I really wish we had good theatre reviews here in Northumberland.  I think there is a real art to getting it right, especially for community theatre, and we really need that, not only to encourage the theatre companies and keep them honest, but it helps theatre-goers to better understand what they are experiencing.

Tomorrow is the memorial service for VOS founder Ruth Harcort.  She directed and played in many shows through the years for different theatre groups.

Here is a review of a show she directed – the Northumberland Players’ production of “The Fantasicks” from The Port Hope Evening Guide, October, 1989.

Click to view full size, there are 2 image files.

Fantasticks Review




Fantasticks Review 2

Now THAT is a good review, written Jonathan Lock, two and half decades ago.  He provides an excellent look at at the actors’s work, how they were directed, even how they had improved from past performances.  There’s good critique of technical stuff, all fixable, nothing too biting or nasty.

Certainly nowhere is there this idea that we should celebrate everyone and come on out to support everyone because they worked hard.  That’s a ridiculous sentiment that might wash with youth productions or other participation-based stuff, but theatre patrons pay real money and they deserve to get good value.

The fact of the matter is that theatre is competing with everything other form of entertainment, including TV and Netflix, not to mention a plethora of choirs, bands, dance, and other performing arts events.  We need to have someone writing about what’s really happening on the stage so that people can interpret some of the things that they may have missed, or that they simply couldn’t appreciate.

The fact of the matter is that on any given weekend we have all kinds of local theatre choices, and if we simply had someone who knew what they were writing about, and who was able to elucidate their opinions without obvious bias, then both the audience and the performance companies would be much better off.

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