With a play that passes the Bechdel Test with flying colours, The Critic is a rather bold examination of the relationship between the role of the critic, the publisher, the artist, and the public – bold because it actually lifts the hood slightly into the world of reviewing and of performing. With strong dialogue and acting (especially by the end), and a realistic examination of the ethical dilemmas of those who are in the reviewing business (as well as those
One thing that really stands out was the amount of meta-performance going on. There is something very amusing about watching a show as a critic that depicts the sometimes sordid machinations of the entertainment industry, especially considering how accurate some of the problems that are addressed are – how do you separate (if possible) the personal from the professional? And what are the consequences for blending the two? In this show, not only is there a play within a play (which lampooned over-indulgent theatrical performances quite well), but it had enough self-awareness that it would acknowledge the actual audience (and reviewers within) that this was actually an examination of them as well. As a reviewer the show provided a moment to reflect upon why I was there, what was the purpose of reviewing or writing shows, and even the amusing perspective of watching myself watching a show about watching a show.
Or perhaps that is reading a lot into what was fundamentally a very strong performance? Either way, it certainly was food for thought.
In general the show was solid – the flow was good and never felt rushed or slow; there was a healthy balance between humour and pathos (which was handled brilliantly by all the actors – each managed to convey the emotions required in an excellent fashion whilst not overdoing it); and the general production was strong. Although there were one or two minor slip-ups of lines, overall teach actor knew what was required beyond the lines, and conveyed minor details such as facial tics, awkward interruptions and pauses, and the conflicts that arise when personal and professional collide. Friendship, betrayal, and ethical dilemmas all arose and were examined in an adult and well-thought out manner, and everything came together well to ensure that the performance did the ideas justice.
Overall an intense but thought-provoking and emotional play, another excellent piece of work from the team at Bitten By Productions. Well put together, we look forward to further examinations of their work in the future, and of the actors within. Hopefully they all continue to explore emotional and thought-provoking themes with performances that continue to be top-tier.
The Critic is showing from September 9th to September 15th as at part of the 2019 Melbourne Fringe Festival. Tickets can be purchased here.