Megan's Head

A place where Megan gets off her head.

crits!

Whenever I go and see something and then write about it, I always go with my gut response but I try to be as articulate as possible when explaining what I think. I try even harder when I’m justifying why I didn’t like something. Then, once I’ve had my say, I make a point of seeing what others thought. It’s not like I have to read through reams of stuff. There are usually two, maybe three reviews in total in the English media on any given production. And, mostly, my opinion will be shared by at least one somebody.

So I was quite surprised to see two reviews on Isabella that pretty much raved about it. I was, like, was that the same show I saw? I know it was because I was there on the same night as one of the critics, although our experiences were so vastly different. While I thought the audience members had to shake themselves awake afterwards, he thought that they were dumbstruck and reluctant to break the magic. While I thought the show was incomplete and unready, he found it complex and magnificent. The same things that irritated me he found well done. Go figure. I guess that’s why it’s good to get more than one opinion on things, especially theatre, when the experience is obviously so subjective.

It’s just, I can’t understand how it can be so different.

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4 Comments

  1. Zoe

    Hi Megan. I’d just like to know which critic praised Isabella? I’d be very interested to read that review.

  2. megan

    Both Zane Henry and Peter Tromp did. Check out their reviews on iol’s website.

  3. Zane Henry

    Hey Megan

    I really enjoyed your review and I agree with a lot of the points you made. Obviously, I enjoyed Isabella more than you did. Like you say,subjectivity. I was in a great frame of mind at the time and was inclined to slip into the beautiful, but structurally problematic world of the play. Still, my review didn’t adequately convey my feelings towards it.

    Problem is, when I left the theatre and later when I was at my desk writing the review, I couldn’t quite figure out exactly why I didn’t completely love it. I didn’t really mind the things you disliked about it. Yet, I was ambivalent.

    So when my deadline rolled around and I still couldn’t nail it, I had to make only the criticisms I could articulate. I tried to avoid frothy superlatives and woolly splutterings.

    I never, ever, ever say something bad about a production unless I can validate it. I feel that would be the height of unprofessionalism, disrespect and plain dodginess. So if I can’t convey something intelligibly, I won’t say it at all. Some will call it cowardice, others will mutter something about discretion and valour.

    So ja. That, in an indulgently large nutshell is why our reviews differed. And thank God for that. We need more independent voices in SA theatre. Cocky young gits like myself need to be slapped now and then, before our egos supersede our experience.

    Bless Megan’s Head.

  4. megan

    Thanks Zane! I guess I’m still feeling a little like I was in a psycho space warp where I was being bitch crit galore. My reasoning is I think I get scared that audiences are going to go to a highly recommended something and then be put off because they don’t get it/it’s not funny/it’s too in house or it’s over their heads. So, I think it’s very important that the stuff that doesn’t work is as articulated as what does. Now, please don’t get me wrong, I completely hear what you are saying, and obviously the piece worked for you, and I’m glad. I want good, beautiful, creative, original, amazing theatre.

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