Reviewer Gauntlet

Tonight marks the end of our first week of performances at ART, and the end of the reviewer gauntlet–we had 10 press seats for Friday, 22 for Saturday and only 1 tonight. Friday and Saturday were fantastic shows, with Saturday’s being particularly energetic, with a very full house.

Tonight was a different story–Easter Sunday. The house was tiny, but we were ready and I changed my attack in many places. When the house is small, sometimes you have to hover and run the audience in little circles, ramping up to a level of intimacy they’re comfortable with, and though tough, I felt we got to a very interesting place–by the close it had become a very intimate show, the boundaries lower than usual, and while still artistically measured I thought that given the situation I’d made the best possible soup with the bones.

Unfortunately, of all the reviewers it could be, the one reviewer tonight is the Boston Globe. Now, theater people like to pretend reviews don’t matter, and in a sense they do not–but in another, very real sense they do, as they become the press and barometer that helps people find a work. We can’t live in a vacuum, and press is vital to getting word out about good work. I don’t know why the Globe chose to come on Easter Sunday–that’s their prerogative–but given the hay I was handed by the size of the house, I did everything I could to spin gold. In the spirit of transparency I’ll say that while I’ll take the Pepsi Challenge with theatrical events everywhere, I don’t really know what the reviewer tonight will write…it could really break in any of a number of directions, which is why at the end of the day you play your gut and the piece, never the critics, because they’ll break your hearts.

So as the week ends I feel mixed–I love what the work is doing here at ART, and the show looks marvelous in the space, but I’m hoping that a lot of details can get fixed early this week, and I hope that we’ll get our arms around these audience numbers. I’ll probably be working all day tomorrow, my day off, on these issues–a normal actor would take a break, but as the playwright/creator/progenitor I can’t afford that kind of detachment. I will take a nap, I hope–I could use some extra rest.


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