Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Critical mess

Is anyone else weary of the current media frenzy feeding off of Lily Allen's insipid moan (read PR stunt) about being "fat, ugly and sh**er than Winehouse?" Er, personally I think her issues stem more from dressing like like a 50’s housewife meets pep rally cheerleader than her body image or lack of talent. But, enough of that, there are far bigger drama queens to concern ourselves with this week. Literally.

Over on the Guardian website, Nicholas Hytner's (current NT Director) blast against 'dead white male theatre critics' seems to have provoked some washing of dirty linen in public, with No 1 drama critic Michael Billington and No 2 drama critic Lyn Gardner lobbing overpriced icecreams at each other from the back of the stalls. And as any NT goer worth a £10 Travelex seat will know, there have been a few duds recently at the National, but I still thought Hytner's comments a bit churlish.

The larger crisis in theatre today certainly isn't the critics, but rather a shortage of good new plays. There are plenty of mediocre ones around, and over-praising them isn't going to help anyone. But, thankfully, under praising doesn't have to kill them. Just take the Guardian's two-star bashing of the Royal Court's subsequent storming sell-out 'That Face'. The point is that sometimes, when half the critical world is up in arms, and the other half in rapture, then you could be in for a treat. Rather than pan the reviewers Hytner-style, isn't it better to get a sense of the individual critic's aesthetics and orient their taste in relation to yours? Thus one can formulate, in time, simple rules, such as (hypothetically of course): "If Lyn Garnder of the Guardian hates it, then I will love it."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok, seriously, what is up with English pop stars and all their chavvy bling? It’s like they all have some kind of disease they have, isn’t it? Clearly Lily hasn’t reached the status of Mikey Skinner (who sports diamond encrusted gear), as she was head to toe gold, but not an ice cube was to be found. To all the people who think Lily is some kind of pioneer of fashion with her hula hoop-sized earings and oversized gold necklaces, I have news for you: Puerto Rican girls from the Bronx have been doing that since the beginning of time (true), but no one is running round calling them the arbiters of high style.

Does that mean boys/girls who have crushes on Lily are also inherently attracted to Jenny from the block? Because they just about have the same exact style points going on

4:17 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have banned the NT recently having wasted ££ on rather average shows. I think Hytner would be wise to take in some advice before he sails a sinking sinking ship.

He is oh so handsome though.

4:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point indeed CS!

Too often we forego our own critical faculties for those of a paid observer.I often revel in conflicting reviews and look to find out for myself. Or of course check in with my favourite London blogger!

Billington IS generally a bastard though. mostly.

4:26 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay anonymous, so you hate Lily, we get it.

Good god, she’s wearing a dress that she’s worn before!

And she’s noty singing songs from her second album yet - what a sell out!

Sorry, I may be being a tad sarcastic.

As for the excessive brit-bling comment, has anyone else noticed that ever since Mike Skinner got money in his pocket he’s been boring as hell? So what if Lily’s wearing some Ratner-esque shininess?

4:28 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with you City Slicker. It is easy to be lazy and just abide by what the papers say about something.
I find similiarities in the film world. A few bad reviews and it can be killed but often word of mouth does prove stronger than the pen.

4:42 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

With you Slicky that Gardner can be one tough bitch!

4:50 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well put CS

5:14 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hytner is simply having a gay man's hissy fit.

5:21 pm  
Blogger Shep said...

I actually have time for Billington, having attended some of his lecture thingys back when I was...into that sort of thing. Sure his nonstop love for Pinter knows no bounds, but he does have a decent amount of experience, and knows what he's talking about most of the time.

Or should we be getting Terry Christian's thoughts on the latest NT revival?

Critics are a weird bunch, and sometimes cruel. And can kill a show. But, for fuck's sake, that's the arena, that's the business.

I like Lily Allen too. :-)

6:11 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not critical of the critics usually but when they pan something just because they can I have to feel as though other outlets are better suited to give a director/producer fair treatment.

9:08 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Welcome back Shep!
Ella xx

1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Like your blog will return

3:06 pm  
Blogger *snake*bite* said...

The chavster is just complaining and i agree as a publicity stunt - purely because asides from her very obvious lack of talent to get a tune in the right key she is more on the side of Lady Sovereign the ultimate epitomy of Chav bling bling rather than the Pussycat Dolls!!!


12:12 pm  

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