Preconceived notions shaped critic’s review
In the interest of full disclosure, I had a very minor part in the staging of “Angels in America,” now playing at the Subversive Theater. I state this first and foremost to set an example for Colin Dabkowski, Buffalo News art critic. His disclosure came at the end of his write-up of the two plays in the Jan. 19 News. Too late to mitigate the scathing critique of casting and technical enhancement that contributes to the transporting of the audience into a world both unknown and familiar; heart-wrenching and thought-provoking.
A self-described lifelong, incurable fan of “Angels in America,” Dabkowski arrives at the theater with almost two decades worth of enjoying the play in various venues, with a wide range of interpretation and of course, the multiple Emmy-winning HBO miniseries. This is nearly 20 years of enjoying a production, establishing bias and preference on various aspects of the play that are solely at the discretion of the director, producer and collaboration with the cast. Entering a theater with preconceived notions of a particular work of art sets up the production for a less than all-around-perfect score of four stars. No matter how well done, there is an established standard; “the favorite” that will not be equaled.
The responsibility of a critic who hopes to influence the theatergoing public is to ensure that he leaves his prejudices parked in his car, lets go of the memories of favorite stagings and allows the production to take on its own identity. If this is not practical, possible or desirable, the critic should then disclose his past experience with the work of art to set the tone for the rest of the review.