Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I Haven't Seen This Show. . .

But I feel this is a lazy review of it. Perhaps lazy is the wrong word. I don't know what the right word is. Theatrically limited, perhaps, judging from this sentence: "Most of the dozens of works Stein classified as plays do not resemble standard theatrical texts at all, even when they are divided — willy-nilly it seems — into acts and scenes." So what is his point here? That Stein's plays don't look like plays? That they are dense? And rarely staged? Has he not been paying attention? Many of the best creators of plays write stuff that do not look like "standard theatrical texts." I would think that by this point in time, the idea of there being a "standard" play text would have been shot to bits. Has he never looked at a Wellman play? Or even a Churchill one with its slashes and asterisks all over the place?

His conclusion to the review is facile: People who like Stein will enjoy the chance to see her work onstage. However, the rest of us, the regular folk who prefer things linear and tidy, will feel "smothered" and "starved for meaning." Oi. I wonder if he chose to review this show, just to intentionally turn his nose up at it (ala those critics Barthes discusses in Mythologies in his essay "Blind and Dumb Criticism"--those critics who reject a philosophy/system of thinking because they don't understand it.) Or I wonder if he was assigned the show by the editor--in which case, clearly there are critics at the Times more suited (based on the other shows they've covered) to review such a show. In any case, it's evidence of laziness (yes, I've determined that is the word) on the reviewer's and the paper's side and is detrimental to encouraging further experimentation in theater.

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