(Most of the ensemble. Photo by Pak Han.)
In my latest review, of God’s Plot, at Shotgun, I allocate space in a way I’ve been criticized for in the past: discussing themes and context at the expense of design and performance.
Every critic brings a unique background and set of predilections to his or her writing. Previous incarnations of Lily include a director and a playwright, but I’m not an actress, and I’ve never even tried to design. It’s no wonder I so often find myself drawn to write about the categories in which I have some experience, where I’m not just better informed but also more imaginative: There, I can more easily envision alternatives to artists’ choices.
What that means is that I sometimes don’t talk as much about costume, lighting, set and sound designers or actors as I do directors and playwrights. And in a play like God’s Plot, in which I thought all aspects of the production were very fine, I’m neglecting to praise artists of merit.
A critic has two conflicting imperatives: to review a play holistically, and to relate a predominant impression, i.e., to talk about what moved him or her. It’s tough to do both, especially the holistic part. There’s always another detail you could include, another shout-out you could throw in.
And maybe even with a universally well-done show, I’m still entitled to write about the parts I found most intriguing. Attempting to name everything, after all, can start to look like a laundry list.
Still, I wish I could have named more names in the article. Info about the show, which continues through Jan. 14, is available here.