A review by Victor Fiorillo of EgoPo Classic Theatre’s A Doll’s House got Phindie writer Julius Ferraro contemplating the role of reviewer. This is part of Phindie‘s ongoing series on theater criticism.
Excerpted from Julius’s blog, Notes on Words.
From my experience, Victor Fiorillo is not anti-small theater nor is he the kind of reviewer who patently enjoys destroying companies and shows, so it is a bit puzzling to me how he could write some of the stuff in this review for Philadelphia Magazine. Lines like “[the audience's] lukewarm (that’s generous) response at the end of the performance” seem to be completely fabricated; the audience around me seemed to enjoy the show even more than I did.
But “this show is not fit for public consumption”: I wonder if a reviewer should ever pen this. Does anyone reading that paragraph think that it’s an okay thing to say? Particularly about a show that has a lot of value in it. I wouldn’t say that this is the best show in the 2013 Fringe Festival, nor near EgoPo’s or director Brenna Geffers’s potential. However, it’s still great in a lot of ways and I think that any general audience (not one with Fiorillo’s or my high expectations) will enjoy the shit out of it.
“. . . not fit for public consumption.”
Not to be snitty, but maybe “consumption” is too much on Fiorillo’s mind. His article starts with two paragraphs of lamenting an empty belly and the anxiety of getting to his next show on time. That can make me like a show less than I should. I’d rather not chalk it up to lack of professionalism. But I wonder if anyone reading this can tell me: is it the reviewer’s role to say that a show is absolute shit?
Particularly when it’s actually pretty good?
It exists in the between-area; it’s not fully realized dramatic orgasm, but it is surely not worth the panning Fiorillo gave it. Yet that review, which is the first that comes up on Google when you search for EgoPo and A Doll’s House (ahead of Phindie’s own, by Christopher Munden), surely cut down on audiences later in the end of the run. Cheers to those audience members who, in the comments below, give their own opinion. Notice that no one in the comments agrees with Fiorillo’s opinion.
This is part of a larger discussion on the role of the reviewer, which I am slowly learning about. Here are two much more well-thought-out discussions about it: