Sunday, January 21, 2007

Bark!

Triangle Productions
Posted by Followspot January 21, 2007; closes March 10, 2007

You might howl at the premise or growl that the score is mathematically derived to please, but you’ll find no fault with the precise delivery of this well-trained ensemble that’s happily dogged by both the powerful pipes and the personal panache to make this a winning revue of musical bones.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

This is the same musical the WWeek called a "stinking turd?"

Anonymous said...

That was a rather bracing slap WW gave to "Misalliance" as well.

Anonymous said...

People who actually know theatre; how to do it, what it is and how to truly quanify it don't read WW anyway...it's just a bad impersonation of the Village Voice.

Dan said...

I'm not sure where to post this, so I'll put it here just for the hell of it:

Have people here been reading the reviews of Marty Hughley's in The Oregonian? If you haven't, please do. It is a breath of fresh air and maybe the benchmark for what theatre criticism should more consistently be. Why? Because it's honest, well-executed, clear, and detailed. On top of it being intelligent and objective, it does not have a snarky, biting edge that reads like he masturbated to it - like some reviewers out there who write for the excitement of seeing their own words in print (because it makes their existence somehow more relevant?).

I am thoroughly impressed by Marty's insight, his enlightening observations, and his well thought-out cricitism. If you haven't noticed the major difference in his critical writing compared to local reviewers (versus critics, mind you, who as I said before are of a very different ilk), please take a look at his recent observation of Vanya, but even better his look at Chateau Joyeaux and Profile's Heidi Chronicles (in the archives at http://www.oregonlive.com/artsandevents/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/entertainment/1168824307119610.xml&coll=7)

Why is his writing so fantastic? It isn't personal. He takes himself out of the equation. It isn't a first-person account where we get his life and/or personality involved. We should not have to or even want to know personally the writer of the criticism. The piece you write is NOT about you or your prejudices coming into the production, your emotional state or your daily diary before you saw the production, or your wittiness and cleverness that only YOU find witty and clever. It's about the work you've seen, and it should not be convoluted by your personality. Don't waste the precious few inches that are made available. That's what columns are for and if you want one, ask your editor for a weekly entertainment column, but leave your columns out of your reviews, seriously, please! Editors, there is a big difference between an entertainment column and a review. Look into it, because it isn't working and you honestly know it but just don't know yet how to fix it. If you honestly think it works, poll your readers. Portland is more sensitive and intelligent than you give them credit.

Marty's criticism is from the perspective of a third person observer stepping away from the production and really examining what worked and what didn't. More importantly, he's specific, and doesn't spend too much time regurgitating the plot to us. He tells us why it does or doesn't work and he doesn't use vague phrases like "it needs more shaping." He's objective and it's clear his view is from an intelligent, and more importantly an artistically and culturally informed point of view.

To the reviewers who read this site (and there are a few), look and learn. Criticism should be equally useful for the artists as well as the audience, and there really are ways to do it to have your words read, understood, and appreciated by everyone who is part of the process. Thanks for listening.

If you take a look at Marty's work and you agree, let's let our news media know that as artists, audiences, and readers we want to see more of his writing, and writing like his, in the future!

Tim H. said...

I like Mr. Hughley's fresh voice in the arena of theatre criticism as well, but it should be pointed out that he's written music reviews for the "O" for years. I can remember instances where he has expressed a bias or preference, but only in the context of explaining where he is coming from. It's kind of nice to have the honesty of an admission that certain things might not be his cup o' tea.

Anonymous said...

Returning to Bark, it is essentially a cute one-act that was split in to two, had a few more less than cute songs added (top of act 2 comes to mind), and sold as a complete show. It is far from complete. If the program is correct and this show is headed for off-broadway after its next go-round, it might die there if the authors don't re-evaluate what the story is and why they think it needs a 6 minute "song" about howling at sirens. It is the show-stopper, buut not in a good way.

Anonymous said...

Hi. Anonymous 2:08 here. I failed to mention that I only perceived the show to be a one act split in two. I have no knowledge of this actually being the case.

Whiskey said...

this cast does a fantastic job in trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear ... but at the same time, I winced whenever I saw these extremely talented pros falling back on their gimmicks (e.g., particular vocal flourishes, etc.) when they could be throwing away those crutches and stretching their legs -- espcially with material like this, what better time to experiment?