Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Reviewing: Part Two

One of the wonderful things about spending a prolonged time in Edinburgh and the proliferation of free ticket deals along with the reviewing lark is that it encourages (or in some cases forces) me to step outside my comfort zone. I've seen dance and physical theatre and experimental opera and comedy and spoken word and more than one thing I'd struggle to classify. And, for the most part, it's been brilliant. And even when it hasn't been brilliant at least it's been interesting.

But on one memorable occasion I found myself stuck in something that really wasn't my thing. I'm not always sure what exactly my thing is (it seems other people have a better idea of that than me - I often get 'oh, Corinne, you would love this') but there are a couple of instances where I know exactly what my thing isn't. And this show - which I was watching in a reviewing capacity - really, really wasn't my thing. It wasn't my thing to such an extent that I didn't know how to react.

It's not that I didn't think - maybe this will be the time I like this. Maybe they will do something I've never experienced before and it will be brilliant and I will take back everything I've ever said about (for example) Ugg boots. But that didn't happen.

I knew I probably should have been laughing but I couldn't because I did not find it funny. I just don't find this particular thing funny. And, for all I would like to think it might be different, it's very unlikely. Potentially nothing is going to make me like Uggs or Beckett or tie dye. It is simply how the world is.

I spent some time afterwards considering how I was going to be objective about the show. After all - as I pointed out - reviewers have a responsibility. And it would be wrong of me to dismiss something simply because I do not like this type of thing. Particularly when I know there are people who do like this genre.

Were they good within their genre? Again I couldn't quite be sure, mainly because knowing this is not my thing, I don't take an avid interest in its proponents. In fact I take the reverse. I actively avoid its proponents.

All reviewing is subjective. I know the bias of a variety of theatre critics just by virtue of their output. But reviewing in Edinburgh doesn't really allow for that. All these reviewers, who as far as you are concerned might just as well have been pulled off of the streets, how are you supposed to judge? Whilst I feel very happy - some might say too happy - to pronounce my opinions on all types of theatre (after all I've studied it, I make it, I read about it pretty much every day, I watch far too much of it) I'm the first to put my hands up and say that maybe I'm not as qualified to make pronouncements on other art forms. And I can't be the only reviewer who has experienced this, or this the only show that's been reviewed by someone who was already predisposed to dislike it.

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