The Reviewers 2

Reviewed by Jo Randerson

Some things that you can do in a review:

  • Write how you were feeling when you went to the show and at what point you got bored/tired
  • Suggest which bits should be cut
  • Describe the plot, set and ‘quality’ of the actors
  • Pick out the best bits
  • Judge how ‘good’ or ‘bad’ it was on your own spectrum of ‘successful’ theatre NB. your reasoning may be subconscious
  • Find witty ways to criticize the performance to show your superior knowledge
  • Try to convey through language the sentiment/intention/thrust of the performance
  • Critique the performance within the context of the artists’/makers’ history

We came into a dark room with many little tables and chairs. Performers in white face paint ushered us to our seats and poured us water. Anvil House was transformed into a mini theatre which was a pleasurable change for this reviewer.

The show began on a high stage – a parody of a little known medieval play. It was played ’badly’. What is ‘bad performance’?  It was very enjoyable to watch. After a while, some older white male ‘reviewers’ appeared and criticized the show. They showed the performers how to do it better. What is good theatre? They loved being on stage and we were taken through their memories of how important art was to then. Pity was aroused for these vulnerable men and their rigidity. Whose voices do we give credence to when criticized? If a particular set of voices have had the mic for too long, should we ask them to sit down? Get another mic? Ignore them? Criticize them? 

This show was successful because it had a real anger to its core, but never indulged it. It worked like crazy to entertain us, and the ‘performers’ were always several steps ahead of the ‘reviewers’. It danced its complaints to us, it transcended the bitterness into compassion and forgiveness through the medium of performance. 

Someone in a white face paint gave me a card which said; ‘which performance do you like more – this one or the other one?’ Soon Liza Minelli was singing to us and I really wanted her to sit on my knee (it was not the real Liza Minelli). She spoke to us of amateur work - what is wrong with amateur – which derives from the latin ‘to love’ (amare)? Performers who ‘do it for the love of it’.

The Reviewers felt to me like a triumphant and exuberant punch in the air: as if some old patriarch had tried to pin a delicate insect down but the insect resisted by singing cabaret and poof! It escaped. The performers were joyful and very strong in their own selves, the integration of the sound and light and of the whole team in the performance gave me a sense of being surrounded by a piece that had a real heart and purpose. As we left, someone said ‘ isn’t it timely, with the Chapman Tripps tomorrow night.’ And I thought ‘oh, are those awards on again?’ The best bit was about halfway through. There was one scene which should definitely have been cut because I felt a bit tired at that point. Rating: 113 points. A must-see for young or old mixed race city or rural dwellers or art lovers everywhere, or people who like being with others in a small gathering which makes them laugh and think.