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Dear West End Producer: ‘Can you suggest less hackneyed compliments than ‘smashing it’ or ‘nailing it’?’

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Terms such as ‘smashing it’, ‘nailing it’ and ‘hitting it out of the park’ are ridiculous. They are all rather violent and give the impression that an actor has broken another actor (not uncommon), nailed a fellow performer to a set or punched a colleague in Regent’s Park. Of course, these terms are not meant to convey such things. They are terms of congratulation.

Other worrying phrases are similarly overused. Tim Rice recently tweeted:

Sir Timmy is absolutely right. Many sayings and phrases make about as much sense as Katie Price’s popularity. It really is beyond me. But I suppose it is our own individual choice if we want to use them, and if we disapprove we should stay mute, or make more informed choices ourselves. I was at the Menier Chocolate Factory only the other evening when I witnessed first-hand some of the most absurd phrases I’ve ever heard, including: “That was sick” (did it make you vomit?) and “It was so fat” (the actors weren’t – how rude, dear).

Here are my suggestions for alternative phrases to compliment performers, including some good, old-fashioned favourites:

Bravo – ‘congratulations’

Encore – ‘I loved it, do some more’

That was tip-top – ‘that was marvellous’

Bloody good show – ‘terrific show’

They cracked it – ‘they smashed it’.

They patted it out of the shrubs – ‘they hit it out of the park’

That was mildly nauseating, but in a good way – ‘that was sick’

It was a healthy production – ‘it was fat’

They really earned their stripes – ‘they proved they were actors’

They Rylanced it tonight – ‘they did a performance worthy of Mark Rylance’

What a Dench performance! – ‘even Judi would be proud’

You Christopher Bigginsed it! – ‘you were even better than Biggins’

You did theatre proud – ‘the gods of drama are weeping with joy’

You Olivier Olivier Olivier’d it! – ‘there’s an Olivier award with your name on it’

You Evening Standarded it! – ‘you’ll get an Evening Standard award for that’ (only applicable to famous people)

That was an above-Equity-minimum performance – ‘your union should give you a pay rise after that, dear!’

Whether you’re a fan of them or not, phrases such as ‘smashed it’ are all positive and expressed to support the actor. And it’s far better that something encouraging is said than nothing at all.

We live in a society where too few people are applauded for their achievements, and I for one am grateful that the theatre world is vocal about it. So bravo. I hope you all hit it out of the park and Rylance it, dears.

Send questions to your dear agony aunt via Twitter @westendproducer

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