Two plays with war and family on the brain: Craig Lucas' Prayer for My Enemy and Keith Reddin & Meg Gibson's Antigone remix Too Much Memory. Read all about 'em.
In other Critic-O-Meter news, LA Weekly's Steven Leigh Morris offers a longer and more thorough version of his blog entry deploring Isaac's and my new review-reviewing site. I'm honored that Steven takes our site seriously enough to take it apart so vigorously (and I'm kind of tickled by the piece's illustration, by Justin Renteria), but of course I'm disappointed that he relates our venture to the culture of standardized testing and a reductive "one-click-fits-all" model.
While I admit feeling a sting of truth when Steven writes, "To assess a play with a grade is mildly insulting to the critic but deeply insulting to the creators," I also have a response, having been on both sides of that coin--I've been reviewed as well as reviewed others, and both I and my targets, last I checked, are still standing. And the response is this: that at least part of what Critic-O-Meter is intended to do is to serve as a corrective to the undue power of a few daily critics, both in the area of consumer advice and in the realm of setting the terms and boundaries of the critical conversation. I have felt firsthand, and heard secondhand over the years, the deep frustration with the way one or two critic's tastes and distastes too often become the final verdict/conventional wisdom on a play for all time--in the markets I've worked in, it's been whoever has "Times" on his side--when I and others who care about this kind of thing know that the critical conversation about a given play is/was much, much wider and more diverse than any one critic's writing could possibly reflect. So what could I do with this knowledge? Ramble on about a particular undersung show when asked, or even when unasked; advocate favorites with theatre awards or year-end lists.
Critic-O-Meter, in that spirit, is our way of broadening the conversation to include everyone writing about every show we can find (and have time to include); if we want to drop our thoughtful two cents about our favorite shows and issues into the giant wishing well of the blogosphere, well, that's what a blog like this or this is for. The grading process at Critic-O-Meter, as Steven rightly notes, is entirely subjective, but that's the essence of our gamble: that the grades, and the paragraphs of summary we add about each show, are the value that Isaac and I add beyond a simple review aggregator.
As a critic, sporadic practitioner and occasional paying theatergoer myself, I know I can handle the insult of being reduced to a grade, particularly if the so-called "reduction" in fact holds out the chance of a more abundant, noisy, and spirited conversation.