by Valerie Cardinal
Some people may tell you that theatre is a dying art, and that no one goes to see that stuff these days. I say they can be proved wrong by the sheer volume of theatre reviews across the web. Not only are print publications now putting their reviews online, but more and more theatre-related blogs like The Charlebois Post are popping up. Very often, the quality of writing is outstanding. Even though a lot of the reviews I read on a weekly basis are for productions taking place across the country, it’s still a pleasure to read a really well done review. I thought I’d round up the best reviews I’ve read this week, the ones that got me excited and made me wish that my teleportation device wasn’t still in the shop. Seriously, those sci-fi device repair shops sure do love to take their time.
First up is Martin Morrow at the The Grid’s review of La Ronde and True West, Soulpepper’s current double bill. This short review gives an enticing, pithy summary of events that even fits the tone of both shows. Morrow describes La Ronde’s “aggressive staging” and one of the characters in True West as “deliciously sketchy”. As a former journalism student, I’m a big fan of economical and effective use of language, and this review has that in spades.
I find it strange that I’ve never mentioned Ottawa, my current home, in my columns. Contrary to what people may believe, there is quite a bit of theatre happening here! The Ottawa Citizen’s Patrick Langston reviewed The Edward Curtis Project in a way that drops you into the play and paints a great picture. Langston also effectively describes the characters and why we should be interested in seeing them on a stage.
Mooney on Theatre is quickly becoming one of my favorites due to its impressive volume of reviews and editorial style. This week, I greatly enjoyed Lauren Stein’s review of A Dance Tribute to the Art of Football, which made me laugh quite a few times while reading. This is definitely an instance where including the reactions of fellow playgoers is effective.
Of course, it’s a very rare week in theatre when reviews are all positive. As I’ve mentioned before, writing a graceful negative review can be tough. I thought this review of My Turquoise Years on straight.com, written by Colin Thomas, was quite effective. Some of Thomas’s comments may seem a little harsh, but they’re honest. I also like that a paragraph at the end mentions a lot of positives that could still make the play worth seeing. After all, our job as critics is not to dissuade people from going to see theatre. As my writing for theatre teacher said this year, it’s all about getting bums in seats.
There’s a lot more out there too, like this Vancouver Sun review of Billy Elliot or VUE Weekly’s critique of The Penelopiad, and I’m sure there are many more that I haven’t had a chance to read. Scouring the Internet each week for writing about theatre across Canada almost makes me feel like I’m travelling without leaving my sofa. Almost.