A REVIEW WITHOUT A NAME.

Of course, there’s a lot of 2012 to go still. Almost all of it; and a lot can happen before nominations are made for the year’s theatre awards in Britain (or England, or, mostly, London).
But at present there’s a possibility that a serious nomination for both Best Actor Female and Male could be missed-out. The performances are in an award-winning play at an established theatre in an accessible part of the capital. The actors concerned are highly experienced, and respected, and the piece they are in while not entirely linear, is by no means experimental in design or presentation.

Neither the play nor the two performers concerned are English, but this is not the barrier. Nor is it a reluctance by critics to make a journey they have, most of them, made often enough. Indeed many of them will be doing it once this month to see another production very close by. And it is hard to believe that potential reviewers are unaware of, or uninterested by, the production.

No – the reason is that the theatre management will not allow any reviews. It’s part of a policy, which in some cases – new writer, director, designer maybe, actors – could make sense. Even if the people involved aren’t new to their game, they might be trying something new and want to do so without the intense searchlight of critical scrutiny the London press inevitable, and necessarily, provides. There have been times even leading writers branching out might have wished for more chance to experiment without the full glare of publicity – it’s an extension of the preview and touring tryout principle.

But there’s no evidence any of that applies here, where a production is merely caught by a management policy – which has in any case been breached on a couple of occasions, presumably when an outside company insisted on it. So, what’s the advantage?

Actors, director, designer, producer can speak for themselves – though I’d doubt they’re happy that such high quality work is going without public notice. Here’s the chance the production might move elsewhere – but it’s a chance and will depend upon their availability and other uncertainties.

From the auditorium, yes, there is a nicely relaxed feel to being in an audience that’s not sprinkled with people following the stars in their eyes. The smallish theatre was well-filled too. But not full. And, while ever-valuable word of mouth will doubtless do good work, not everyone has a near to the appropriate piece of ground. Hence, presumably, reviews.

But it’s my view (which is as near a review as I can go) that any unfilled seat is more than just a loss of income. It means someone who would probably have found this a moving and deeply satisfying experience, will have missed out. And I don’t really understand why this should be so.

2012-02-21 16:27:54

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