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Two Musicals - Qualified Perceptions
firstfrost
firstfrost
Two Musicals
Saw MTG's Company Friday, and then Harvard's Carousel. Both seemed to have "local" reviews (that is, the Tech and then the Crimson) that came across as "The actors were good. I don't really like the book. So, enh." I'm trying to put my finger on why this irritates me.

Certainly a review that just focuses on whether or not the acting is good, and doesn't touch whether or not the thing is worth seeing beyond that, doesn't help me in deciding whether or not to see the show. The couple of shows I've really not liked at the Lyric have had nothing to do with the cast, and everything to do with the stupid script. But still, you wouldn't write a sports article that says "I don't really get the point of baseball, personally. The Red Sox did really well, but overall, you might want to see a football game, they're less boring."

And I think that also, a review of a student performance in a student paper has aspects of "article about students doing a thing" rather than "critical review", which is more appropriate for reviewing something external. On the other hand, the papers themselves probably don't want to come across as any less real than they already do, so writing only puff pieces isn't really the right answer. Well, I've mostly written myself into a corner and away from any actual useful opinions on what I want. Oh, well.

Anyhow, I liked them both. I really have to think of Company as disconnected vignettes in a Musing About Marriage, since they don't seem to fit together to me into a coherent whole, and the more I try to make them fit, the more I want to argue with someone about what they seem to be fitting into. Anyway. Amy's "Not Getting Married" was well-done and hilarious. Marta's "Another Hundred People" sounded easy, which was even more impressive. The set was completely that of the apartment of people I know - it made the people seem more plausibly my generation than the gorgeous but asceptic BCA production.

I'd never seen Carousel before, so heading into the supernatural came as a bit of a surprise to me. I liked the ensemble dances a lot - perhaps I'm naturally more interested by leaping about than by ballet, I'm not sure. All the leads were really nice, and there was a great bit when Mr. Snow comes on, with a lot of nodding, which was great fun.

And, finally finished putting together mjperson's sweater. Of course, now I'm worrying that it'll be too baggy - silk seems to be happier to stretch than wool. Well, we'll see.

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Comments
astra_nomer From: astra_nomer Date: April 18th, 2005 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nifty sweater! Did you do that with intarsia?
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 18th, 2005 02:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yup, it's intarsia, though the stripe is in Noro Kureyon, which is just very-long-repeat space-dyed yarn. So at most it was two skeins of blue and one of multicolor at the same time.
(Deleted comment)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 19th, 2005 09:18 am (UTC) (Link)
Yeah, that was in fact our reaction to "Charlie and Algernon" - "I like the actors a lot better than the play."

I think it's a fine opinion to have, I'm just objecting to it (somewhat confusedly, admittedly) in the context of the headline and main tone of a student-paper review.
desireearmfeldt From: desireearmfeldt Date: April 19th, 2005 10:00 am (UTC) (Link)
I feel like, as a theatergoer reading a review to see if I wanted to go to the show, "It was a good performence of a lousy script" is exactly the sort of information I'd want. If the script sucks, maybe I don't want to see it. But if I know *I* like Carousel, then knowing that it was a good show is useful, rarher than reading a negative review that was negative because the reviewer disgrees with me about whether the show is worth watching in the first place.

As an actor *being* reviewed...well, I'd still rather the review panned the script and praised the production than just panned the production for not being a script the reviewer liked. But I feel like maybe this is the situation you're getting at when you talk about the students-doing-a-thing aspect of the review? That is, if I'm going to a show on broadway, all I care about is the experience as a whole: is it worth my time and money? If I'm going to see a student show, I know it's not professional theatre, it's somehow more about appreciating the fact that the kids are putting on a show, in which case you're more sympathizing with the actors than thinking as a consumer, so you'd like the review to be more about how the kids did than about whether you'll enjoy it?

I'm not sure I buy the argument I just advanced, but... I feel like there's some element of leaping-to-the-defense feeling in the thing you can't put your finger on, and I think I would feel defensive if someone voiced that opinion about a show I was involved in, but I'd find it valuable as an audience member, so... I don't know, it's still mysterious. :)
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 19th, 2005 11:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Hmm. No, it's not that I want a review that's grounded in "Yay, those plucky kids put on a show, go them!". It's... okay, here, I'll start from a different tack.

When I read an article about a local sports game, I mostly expect the home players to be the ones talked about most. When I read an article about the election in the Somerville Journal, I expect the Somerville aldermen and congressmen to be the ones discussed more than what happened in, say, Montana. It's putting the line around "ours" and "not ours" in writing the article.

So when you're the Tech writing about an MTG production, the actors are "ours" and Sondheim is "not ours" and I want the emphasis to be on the former. I don't specifically want this when the Tech reviews a movie, or a play downtown (or at Harvard, for that matter), nor would I want it when the Globe reviews a play, whether it's MTG or professional. (But I do see it when the Globe talks about the Red Sox...)
kirisutogomen From: kirisutogomen Date: April 20th, 2005 09:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

with distinction

I agree that people voicing what they thought of a thing is different from reviewing the thing. Like, if I said, "Anvil of Stars is an annoying book," that would be my opinion, and OK. However, if I were reviewing it, I would need to say something like, "Anvil of Stars isn't just a science fiction book; there is extensive treatment of the ambiguities and internal conflicts experienced by all-too-human people thrust into the roles of heroes."

Anvil of Stars, by the way, is an annoying book.

So, "
firstfrost From: firstfrost Date: April 21st, 2005 07:11 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: with distinction

Anvil of Stars is the first book for which I have seen what appears to be a new feature on Amazon: the inclusion of "statistically improbable phrases" for the book. The SIPs for Anvil of Stars are:

neutronium bombs, killer probes, neutrino storm, super acceleration, volumetric fields, bishop vultures, skeletal suit, ladder fields, fake matter, external drill, staircase gods, privileged bands, fifteen planets, middle braid, star sphere, killer machines, snake mothers, planet killers, few tendays, two tendays, outer cloud, head cords, billion kilometers, second neck, fourth planet


Okay, "bishop vultures" and "staircase gods" I can see being improbable, but "fourth planet"?
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