The Playgoer: Whom to Believe?

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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Whom to Believe?

Two critics today on Rinne Groff's Ruby Sunrise--one of Oskar Eustis's big premieres as new A.D. of the Public Theatre:

How many times has a movie or play lost you at the ending? Everything is chugging along just fine, and then the director cops out and squanders all the good will built up along the way.... By that logic, Rinne Groff's 'The Ruby Sunrise' should generate great word of mouth. It takes a long time, but the play eventually doubles back - turning two underwhelming plot threads into a knockout of an ending.

Eric Grode, NY Sun.

Rinne Groff's period drama about America's growing pains during the early years of television promises a payoff that doesn't quite arrive.

Charles Isherwood, NY Times

One thing's for sure. If you're a young playwright with a big premiere this week, you don't want Charles Isherwood reviewing your show! He skewered the talented Itamar Moses for his Bach at Leipzig this week and his tone with Groff today is no more encouraging. Of course--it's not the critic's role to be a cheerleader. I'm personally a fan of Bach but have not seen Ruby Sunrise. (Grode's review, truth be told, is hardly a rave either.) Maybe they're not great plays. But in age when we keep asking "where are the new playwrights", doesn't it behoove any reviewer (especially at the New York Times!) to show just a little more...interest in what the next generation is up to? And to give them a review that doesn't seek to taint them for the rest of their careers?


Anonymous said...

This is an excellent post. Isherwood's reviews are appalling. These are new playwrights writing for the stage in a country that abhors art. They should be encouraged. British critics encourage new work and there are literally dozens of playwrights under 40 eagerly writing for the stage there. How many slams can a young playwright get before he moves to Los Angeles? Appalling.

Art said...

If you read my blog, you will see that I am the first to call critics on the carpet, but in this case I'm not so sure.

Isherwood did give that fat rave to "Thom Pain" and has, frankly, taken a lot of flack for it.

And Ruby Sunrise didn't get the greatest critical reception here in the Boston area when it premiered at Trinity Rep.

Bill Marx, the critic at WBUR tried the most insightful review by saying that the reason the play's ending doesn't work is that it basically celebrates mediocrity and corporate compromise.

I think your reaction to the ending may depend on your worldview with regards to those things.

Anonymous said...

Dear YS--
what is your blog?