Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Critics might chat with artist horror

Before we begin, a word of warning. The Fringe is not a good place for works in progress. The city is filled with inexperienced reviewers who don't know the difference between a clown and a bouffon. The big newspapers, if they can drag themselves away from the Traverse and Summerhall, have a short temper and are just waiting for an excuse.

Edinburgh punishes weakness, which is a damn shame.The Fringe suggests it is about experimentation but unless yo got the cash, the name, and a polished piece, it's better to stay at home.

However, theatre is getting a real culture of works in progress. Frankly, it has become a bit of an excuse for half-arsed efforts, or artists who won't settle down and finish the job. But when I was chatting to the Cade sisters, they made the point that their show will never reach a definitive version. It has been in a state of flux throughout its life, adapting to venues, changes in their lives and new ideas.

This is different from a work in progress, which needs not be reviewed - AND ought to be labelled properly, not mentioning it after I have done my piece and said it was rubbish - or the traditional scripted play which is finished for the first night and retains its form, more or less, until the run or tour finishes.

It's in plays like Sister that a new dialogue can evolve - the critic not making any grand statement, but questioning the artist and their subject matter. Kick out the star ratings, replace them with something more flexible. Encourage the dialectic between audience and actor.

Yeah, that's never going to happen...

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