The Playgoer: To Recommend or Not to Recommend?

Custom Search

Monday, March 24, 2008

To Recommend or Not to Recommend?

Recommending a play is not quite the same as enthusing about a book or an album. You're encouraging someone to part with what can be a fair sum plus a night of their time, so more careful thought is needed.

When you do encourage someone to try some theatre outside their comfort zone and they have a good experience and want to see more, then that's surely a good thing. And perhaps in the discussions that follow, you might discover different ways of looking at things, and find that your experience is enriched as a result. Given that, is it best to always follow your gut instinct when recommending a production, or are there occasions when it is wiser to play safe?

Natasha Tripney in the Guardian.

Your thoughts? When people come into NYC from out of town and say "What should I see?" (or, worse, "what's good?") do you send them to PS122 or to Broadway?


John Branch said...

This is basically the critic's challenge, isn't it? To decide what to say about a show or a set of shows, in a way that's useful to other people whose tastes, background, and so forth are likely to be different. But it's potentially easier when you're dealing with friends and acquaintances: you have a much better chance of knowing your audience. My aunt from Tennessee likes musicals, particularly more traditional or nostalgic ones; I had no trouble a couple of years ago suggesting she see The Drowsy Chaperone. A good friend from Dallas who used to live in New York likes dramas and comedies, the more substantial the better; it was easy to suggest to him in recent years that he see Closer and then The Real Thing.

Maybe, instead of saying this is the critic's challenge, I should say it's the theater's challenge: what does your audience want?

Anonymous said...

Any "what should i see?" should be followed by "what do you like?". It's like prostitution, it can't be done well with the haggling.

Gypsy's audience might not be Passing Strange's audience.

And recently, I was surprised by an out of towner who said, "why would i go see a broadway show without someone i know (ie famous) in it?" I didn't know how to answer, but they're out there. yikes.

Anonymous said...

the above should be - " can't be done well withOUT haggling." sorry.

Aaron Riccio said...

I don't send anybody anywhere. I think it's the critic's job to describe, as accurately as possible, the experience they've had at a show. Audiences then, knowing the critic's predilections (in my case, daring aesthetic productions -- so PS122), should take in any raves with some consideration. (For instance, I'd encourage anybody above the age of 15 to see "Rainbow Kiss" and "Bride.") I don't write for lazy readers, and if a theatergoer doesn't care to spend time comparing shows before spending their time, then I don't feel bad if I end up accidentally wasting theirs.