Thursday, July 14, 2011

Critical Criticism, and Other Tautologies

In this week’s review, I struggled anew with an old issue: how critical ought criticism be?

The show in question, OMFG! The Internet Dating Musical, at ODC Theater, had a lot of problems (which I won’t be so vicious as to enumerate again). But in writing a review of it, I had two conflicting responsibilities: to let readers know what I really thought, but to express those thoughts professionally—i.e., by citing specific moments in the show to support my assertions as opposed to making broad claims.

(The cast of OMFG! Photo by Margo Moritz.)

Of course, an artist doesn’t have to be overly sensitive to take issue with a negative review; someone will always disagree with what I write, which is part of the joy of writing. What’s more, some of the most memorable, effective and influential criticism is venomous in its snark. So if my soulless desire is to excoriate or ridicule, why hold back?

Maybe because it’s too easy. I’m pretty sure I don’t always successfully resist those urges—and I’m curious to see what my hindsight will tell me about this particular review—but I know I feel like I’ve given a hardworking theater company its due when I at least try.