Friday, 2 March 2018

Friday Five: Different (Re)viewpoints

I am currently performing in the Canberra Repertory Production of Oh, What a Lovely War! I am not one of those people who don't read reviews (or claim not to) of the shows in which they are performing. I do read them but, as I have been a professional reviewer myself and have studied the art of reviewing under several different people, all of whom I respect (including Jeffrey Wainwright; Dave Olive; Laurence Coupe; Jeffrey Walsh; Kathryn Ryan; Peter Rose; Marion Halligan), I am aware that they are to be taken with a grain of salt. 

One of the first things I learned is that a review is only one person's opinion; not everyone will like what you do and that's just fine. A good reviewer should never divulge the plot or criticise without good reasoned argument; neither should they refer to themselves unless they believe the reader is more interested in them than the product they are reviewing, such as Jeremy Clarkson's car 'reviews' or Martin Scorsese's film choices.

The purpose of a review should be to give the potential consumer an idea of whether they will like the thing being reviewed or not, by placing it in context and mentioning the ways in which it is similar to or different from other comparable works. It should review the object that is there; not what the reviewer would have liked it to be. In that light, some of these are better than others - not because of what they say, but because of how they say it.

5 Reviews of Oh, What a Lovely War!
  1. Reviewed by Joe Woodward in The City News - "The production is a triumph for what theatre can achieve in a cultural and social connection with the political agendas of our time."
  2. Reviewed by Len Power for The Canberra Critics Circle - "This production is a puzzling disappointment...This was an important play in its day but with this uninvolving production it’s hard to see why."
  3. Reviewed by Peter Wilkins for The Canberra Times - "A precisely marshalled demonstration of outstanding ensemble work by the company, inspired by Baldock's directorial inventiveness, Ewan's excellent musical direction and Ylaria Rogers' lively and appropriate choreography."
  4. Reviewed by Cathy Bannister for Stage Whispers - "A fresh and vibrant interpretation... handled with alternating humour and foreboding, formality and relief."
  5. Reviewed by John Lombard for The Canberra Critics Circle - "While there were a lot of good physical ideas, they did not always tell the story effectively. Between thick accents and some poor articulation, it was hard to follow the extremely dense narrative."

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