GOOD PEOPLE is suffering a weak production at the venerable Walnut Street Theatre for seven weeks until April 28th. Criticizing the Walnut is like insulting the Queen, but this offering is the wrong play for the wrong theater. Bernard Havard, the producing director, regularly insists that his plays are for family viewing, but the foul-mouthed characters seem inappropriate for his “popular audience.” The playwright, David Lindsay-Abaire, by the script’s directions, didn’t much consider how there could be easy changes of the set for the play’s nine scenes. At the end of each scene, there was a stage wait of five to seven minutes while furniture was put in place and scenery came flying down. I saw an early performance of the play, and the clumsy stage hands were bungling about on a black stage with flashlights trying to figure out what went where! Worse of all was the use of the highly undependable—and I think unnecessary—turntable. This rough-talking play would have been done better by Theatre Exile or the New City Stage Company with a few set pieces. To my way of thinking, Mr. Havard insisted in showing off the work of his scenery shop and set designer, and I bet even in its seventh week of performances, Lori Aghazarian and Debi Marcucci, the stage managers, will be on the side stages with rosary beads praying that the gosh darn turntable works! March 12 to April 28, 2013. walnutstreettheatre.org
4 Replies to “GOOD PEOPLE (Walnut): Grumpy Professor Review”
First of all, the playwright’s name is spelled “Lindsay-Abaire”. Second: what is a “mouth-character”? Third: how can something be “worse of all”? Fourth: I’m not sure what a “side stage” is, but at least one of the stage managers will be in a booth calling the shifts.
You claim that you saw “an early performance”. If it was a preview, I wonder why you’re writing a review at all. Actually, I’m still wondering why you wrote a review at all. Your only real criticism is that a well-established, mainstream theatre is pushing the boundaries of its programming. You see that as a bad thing?
If you are going to keep posting “reviews” to a website purporting to be a read-worthy thing, please take time to Google the playwright’s name. Please also mention, hmm, I don’t know, the direction, acting, theme, design, or at least the cheapest parking lot – that would be more useful than what you’ve posted.
Thanks for your comments. Spelling and hyphenation corrected. This is clearly labeled as a Grumpy Professor Review (check out the series—phindie.com/category/reviews/grumpy-prof/—there are some awesomely grumpy responses). The author presents a more visceral and personal response, and one which is likely representative of a lively segment of the audience. Most of the reviews on the site are traditional, but can’t a theatre site push the boundaries of its programming too? Best.
Yes, it would be interesting to hear from a “typical” audience member. However, this reviewer is listed as having a PhD and being a professor of English and Theater. Varying your programming to include opinions of different backgrounds is certainly a valuable endeavor, but when the Grumpy Professor, PhD, misspells the playwright’s name and makes glaring grammatical errors, your site in general, which I really like as an idea, suffers credibility.
I’m sorry, the site’s credibility suffers, not suffers credibility. Though credibility can be a tough thing to endure. I love the idea of this site, as I love Philly theater. Keep rocking.