Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

May 16, 2011 at 1:20pm

CARV’S WEEKLY BLOG: Stand in the place where you work

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Packed with parents and other well-wishers, a full opening-night house leaped to its feet at the end of the show. Only two unrepentant naysayers remained seated: myself and my fiancee. It's happened before. It'll happen again. And yes, we did see you staring bloody daggers at us. But before you hurdle to the conclusion that we're horrible people who live to shatter the ambitions of amateurs, I ask very humbly that you consider my reasons.

See, I don't have an objection in the world to giving a standing O when I feel it's appropriate. I was the first person standing at OLT's A Few Good Men; and I may be remembering this wrong, but I think we were the only people standing at Jacob Marley's Christmas Carol. But when a critic gives a standing ovation, it's a clear guarantee to the cast and crew that they can expect a delighted review.

So what are they to think a week later, when I pan the show in print or online? Wouldn't that seem more than a tad inconsistent? In fact, it'd be outright deception, and crueler in the long run. So no, I don't give a standing ovation to every show I feel anything good about. I might appreciate the work of the cast but hate the script, for example. And whether actors want to admit it or not, even great performances seldom redeem a bad script. Only friends and family of the cast are happy to spend their money on a crummy show with good acting. I'm not writing for them. I'm writing for unrelated consumers who just want to know where to spend their 20 bucks Friday night.

So for future reference, if I give you a standing O, that's what Ebert calls an enthusiastic thumbs up. If I don't, it doesn't mean I hated everything about your production, it just means I wasn't ecstatic. See, I can't stand simply because you stand. I can't write checks I won't cash a week later; so I won't. But if I do stand--and I have, at least once, at every theater in town--you have unbridled flattery in your future. I'm not a theater publicist by trade, and I'm not your proud uncle, but I will sing your praises to the world.

Filed under: Tacoma, Olympia, Theater,
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