Admitting critical defeat

Adler and Gibb at the Royal Court. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Adler and Gibb at the Royal Court. Photo: Tristram Kenton
Mark Shenton
Mark is associate editor of The Stage, as well as joint lead critic. He has written regularly for The Stage since 2005, including a daily online column.
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OK, here's the moment I finally admit critical defeat. No, I'm not giving it all up - at least not yet - but sometimes it feels entirely impossible to make sense of what you see. Or more to the point, to then find the words to say why and how you can't.

Last night I saw the new Tim Crouch performance piece masquerading as a play, Adler & Gibb, at the Royal Court, and for the life of me couldn't make sense of any of it. At least not in any way that I could become invested in it to the point of caring about anyone in it.

I admit I took the coward's way out on Twitter: instead of posting my usual post-opening tweets, I merely stated,

https://twitter.com/ShentonStage/status/479726380054511616

More than one correspondent insisted I should: "Surely naming names is the critics job? I greatly respect your opinion...", said one.

But Twitter isn't a job, merely a free outlet; though arts journalism is rapidly hurtling towards being a service that we're expected to do for free, I don't need to invite abuse on the same terms. Disagreement, by all means, but on this occasion I knew plenty of others would have something to say if I did voice my disapproval publicly.

That's the thing about Twitter:  I've let 22,000 (and counting) people into my life at my own peril. And some of them like to shout. Lots of great things happen via Twitter, too, but the noise is sometimes overwhelming.

Reviewing, on the other hand, is a place for quieter reflection. So I chose to sit out last night's round until I could try to reflect. And though I'm none the wiser after a night's sleep, I'm looking forward to other reviews letting me in what I might have missed.

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