Here I will be naming and shaming theatre and film critics who offend my delicate tastes with plot summaries, poor writing, or who otherwise annoy me.

It’s time they got a taste of their own medicine.
(yes, it’s indulgent, but my psychologist said it would help)

I’ll Be Watching You
A typical knee-jerk reaction to a play that’s just a little out-of-the-box…

In which a bunch of mindless bureaucrats do absolutely nothing original whatsoever.

In Praise of Hyperbole & Blather
Nominations are open for the first ever MUDSKIPPER AWARDS

The Albatross
Not just any Seagull JUNE 9, 2010

Are Our STArs Out of Reach?
In which the murky world of theatre elitism is laid bare. MARCH 15, 2010

Yours Truly and The Deadly Sins of Criticism…
FEB 20, 2010

Everyone, Everywhere
NOV 7, 2009

Peter Craven and The Trouble With Post-Modern Tinkering
OCT 14, 2009

*Jason Blake’s review of ‘This Kind of Ruckus’, SMH, 9/9/09

I wrote a response to this myself so I was curious as to how others might view this work. Blake’s piece caught my eye as it displays all the hallmarks and failures of contemporary theatre criticism.

Firstly for the entire opening paragraph he simply accounts a number of other shows by the same company. Given the minimal word limits ascribed to theatre reviews I thought it of incedental relevance to take up the first quarter of the review. Ploughing on we are given a rough description of various moments and motifs, a summary of the set (I think it’s safe to assume anyone who attends it can see the set for themselves, yes?) and the revelation that “moves are made, not all of them are welcome”. Well, well, well!

There’s no real insight as to why any of this is happening. No frames of reference, it’s really just a semi-random account of some staging. But he saves the best for last – with a pearl of a sentence which frankly became the inspiration for this column. I’ll walk you through it:

Ruckus is less immediate than Version 1.0’s previous shows – it’s much easier to access our feelings of outrage or disbelief than our ambivalence regarding sexual violence -…”

This must be why he spent the first sixty words of the review listing the company’s prior work, so we can find out that this is “less immediate”. If you’re not sure what that means – he’s kind enough to elaborate by suggesting that the lack of immediacy refers to the feelings we are able to access about sexual violence. Clear? Good. The sentence goes on…

“…but the company’s integration of physical performance with multimedia elements is exceptional…”

So it’s less immediate because we can access stronger emotions than ambivalence, but technically exceptional. I’m confused. Is the “less immediate” remark a positive or negative? And I thought theatre was supposed to let us access our feelings – by doing that would it not make the theatre more immediate? Reading on:

“their excavation of the humourous within the deeply serious remains provocative.”

Remember, this is all one sentence! Less immediate because we can access strong emotions about the material, BUT technically exceptional and provocative. Well, why didn’t he just say so? This exceptionally long winded and confusing sentence should never have made it past the sub.

One out of five stars.


1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. guerrilla semiotics | Bookmark: Timbuktu  |  27/12/2009 at 9:07 am

    […] lines of ‘Guerrilla Semiotics Presents…’, a kind of evil twin to 5th Wall’s Critic Watch, with theatre writings notable & worth pointing […]


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