The Omnivore Recommends… Lyn Gardner on reviewing actors’ performances
In today’s Guardian, theatre critic Lyn Gardner explains why acting is given short shrift in reviews:
The obvious reason for this decline is space, the difficulties of being truly descriptive in just 320 words. The only form of critical writing in print I can think of in which performances are routinely – and often exquisitely and poetically – described is the football match report. But then coverage of even the lowliest match is likely to run to several hundred more words than even the biggest West End opening. It’s not just space, though. The last 30 years have seen the emphasis move away from the actor to the director and the playwright; we have seen, too, the rise of the more democratic ensemble with fewer star players; and there’s the notion now that any Z-list celebrity can act.
Gardner also outlines her own approach:
My rule is to gloss over a mediocre performance unless it comes with a star name attached; or, as happened recently when I saw Imogen Stubbs play Rita in Ibsen’s Little Eyolf, the performance impinges so badly on the production that it is impossible to ignore.