(the latest entry is always on top,
OH, THAT'S WHAT WE SAW
27 May 2005
I didn't deliberately forget to review this show on opening night. It was one that had been added to the schedule later than when I made out my "to be reviewed" calendar and somehow, it never got added to the schedule.
So when my editor sent an e-mail asking if I had been to the show on opening night, I had to admit that I had not...opening night was the night I was in Los Angeles seeing The Big Voice again.
It wasn't quite as bad as missing a major opening night. This was a small production, in a small theatre, with a small cast, and nothing that was going to need huge publicity, but still I felt bad about missing opening night. I arranged with the director to see it in time to get a review printed before the end of the run, so it might encourage audience to come anyway.
I'm kind of a meat-and-potatoes kind of reviewer. I like straightforward stories, preferably with music, that are easy to follow. Boy-meets-girl (or boy-meets-boy or girl-meets-girl) love stories. Enough trauma to make the story interesting, and then preferably everybody lives happily ever after.
My one concern when I became a reviewer five years ago was how I would handle something less than mainstream. Something where you were supposed to think about what was happening, where it wasn't clear. Avant-garde stuff.
Fortunately, I haven't had to review a lot of that. I've even found that I'm capable of doing a dance review without any background in dance whatsoever and not sound like a total idiot.
But I'll tell ya, this one had me stumped. It gave a whole new meaning to avant garde and even though I had no trouble staying awake through it, I was pretty confused.
There was a question-and-answer session after the show ended and the comments from others in the audience made me realize that I had missed all the subtle nuances of the show entirely.
Walt rolled his eyes when we left the theatre, saying that he was glad it was me who had to write the review, and not him. I had no clue how I was going to describe what I had just seen. It was the sort of production that makes me realize how unqualified I am to be a mainstream reviewer.
There wasn't even a plot I could summarize.
And I hadn't understood it enough to know if it was brilliant or terrible.
But there is one advantage to seeing a show after other reviewers have had a chance to write their own reviews. Walt found a small local newspaper which had a lengthy review of the production, discussing all those points which had gone waaaay over my head.
"Oh, that's what that meant," I kept thinking as I read the review over. I'm not sure that it helped explain the play to me, but at least, reading this review, I was able to figure things out a bit more. I didn't plagiarize the review, but I did use it as the basis for my own review, able to put two and two together in my head and come up with something which, I hope, doesn't sound too terribly stupid.
I still don't know if it was brilliant or terrible, but at least I was able to write a review which didn't commit one way or the other and still gave what I hope is a feel for the play to a potential audience.
It was late when I fnished the review. We had come home and I had to watch the Lost finale before starting the review, so it was after 1:30 a.m. before I tried to get to sleep, and then sleep wouldn't come. Based on what I remember watching on television before I finally fell asleep, I would say that it was close to 4 a.m. before I finally went to sleep.
And it was 5:30 when I was jolted out of sleep by the telephone ringing. Let me tell you, you don't want to call this house in the middle of the night. We've had enough of those middle-of-the-night calls which set your heart to racing as you wonder who died this time.
But it was just our neighbor asking us to make sure that Sheila didn't bark outside at that hour of the morning (I was so soundly asleep that I hadn't heard her, or I would have made sure she was inside).
It was two hours after the phone call that I glanced at the caller I.D. box and realized that it wasn't the neighbors I thought were calling, but the other neighbors. I was at least glad of that. The neighbors I thought had called were people with whom we have had a rocky relationship for years. We have only recently come to some sort of friendly truce, mostly because of the mutual deaths of our children (two of ours, one of theirs). I was so upset at myself that now that we are at least smiling at each other again, I had apparently upset them once more.
But no, it was the other guys, the ones who haven't spoken to us in years and never even acknowledged that our son, who had been their babysitter at one point, died. The neighbors we obviously pissed off a long time ago, but I don't know why. I've always been as clueless about their reaction to us as I was about the point of the show I saw last night.
So I'm feeling ever so slightly better about Sheila's barking. Not that I want her to wake the neighbors, but at least if she has to piss off somebody, it might as well be the people who apparently hate us already than the people into whose good graces we have only recently been acepted again.
Here is some more reading for people who care about animals and want to help prevent cruelty toward beings who can't talk for themselves.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(photo by Peggy)