Return of the Zing

Just came back from volunteering for/seeing BLACKBIRD from 3rd Wall, and will post a pretty awed review tomorrow.  Promise (it’s great, go see it…spoiler alert!).  But for tonite, I wanted to restore a post I recently wrote, and then quickly took down (but not before eagle-eyed Nancy Kenny spotted it, bless her).  It was a rebuttal piece to something Ottawa Sun critic Denis Armstrong wrote on his blog, and I deemed my post, in the morning-after, recovery-from-a-drunken-rant clarity, unnecessarily negative.

…then, I read Armstrong’s reviews of BLACKBIRD and THE LIST, and now I deem it necessary.  Enjoy!


Here’s an amusing link I gakked today from the lovely Dillemic Prisoner herself, Nadine Thornhill:
For those of you with better things to do than click and read a blogpost from a theatre critic (I don’t blame you), let me sum up what mister Denis Armstrong, owner of pehaps the worst haircut in Ottawa, is whining about.  It seems that the 2010-2011 theatre season is starting just a touch quickly for Denis, and he’s concerned.  Rantingly concerned, I tell you!  From the vitriol he spews, you’d think he actually had to pay for his own tickets or something (he does not).
The problem stems from the fact that five shows (Crossing Delancey, Blackbird, Someone for Everyone, The List, and A Flea in Her Ear) are all premiering in the same three-day span.  And, like, that’s a lot, apparently.  Which seems weird to me, who was personally excited at all the activity.  A busy theatre season means, well, MORE FUCKING THEATRE.  Which is supposed to be a good thing, if you’re a theatre fan.
But the distinction must be made here…Messr.Armstrong may or may not be a theatre FAN, that’s between him and his hairdresser.  What he definitely IS is a theatre critic.  And critics like to be pampered.  Now, Denis has already been accused of just wanting that free opening night buffet by one commenter already, and he’s dismissed it as a cheap shot.  Perhaps, although nowhere NEAR as cheap as my haircut comment above, I assure you.  But as he also points out, critics are only useful early on in a play’s run.   And logically, if they all start at the same time, well, then the critic must write his reviews all at the same time.  That means what the rubes call ‘work’.  Because most of these shows have between a 2 and 4 week run time.  Seeing 5 shows in a month ain’t no feat…I’ve done it in a day. Reviewed’em all, too…but then again, not to professional standards, freely admitted.  Funny and all, but not pro.
So what’s Denis’ beef, really?  Does he really crave that free food he feels is his birthright?  Can he just not stand the idea of seeing five plays in five days, and writing as many decently-written reviews in the same timeframe?  Is it SUCH a hardship (answer: it is not) ?
Personally, I’m at the point in my theatrical development (far short of Armstrong’s posted 30 years of reviewing, to be sure) where I don’t trust ANYone who never has to pay for their shows, unless they’re an actor, writer, director, or otherwise directly involved in the creative force of theatre.    They just seem to end up as bitches, is all.  First impression.  It’s one of the reasons why I’m really hesitant to ever ask people to comp me a show ticket, even though at this point in the chud, I could probably get away with it.  I don’t want to become a professional spectator.  I LIKE supporting theatre with something other than these easily typed words.  Actors can’t buy burritos with reviews…Taco Bell prefers cold hard cash, thanxverymuch.
So, bottom line?  Enjoy the crowded September, see as much as you can, and if you’re a theatre critic?  Go fuck yourself.  And get a haircut.  Skiddle up skat,
The Visitor


So, that was it.  Since writing that, Armstrong has claimed to have found  BLACKBIRD  ‘boring’ (I checked a medical journal, and that’ s a definitive sign of the onset of clinical brain death…time to push the panic button, Denis), and after THE LIST, he’s promised a ‘moratorium’ on one person shows.

So…the next time something awesome like SYRINGA TREE, ON SECOND THOUGHT, SPUTNIKS or SHADOWS IN BLOOM comes to town, I can go see it without Denis Armstrong stinking up the room with his sour aroma of bitter defeat?  May I humbly make a suggestion to the Ottawa theatrical community..?


Now to figure out what would make Langston stay away…

Rantingly yours,

The Visitor

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