Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics

Expansion — September 25, 2013



Fringe draws to an end, and so does my coverage.

My previous article about Victor Fiorillo’s review of A Doll’s House – and the larger responsibilities of reviewers – was reposted on Phindie. Fiorillo responded – succinctly – and I have since submitted a response. Hopefully this will be a discussion rather than a duel, cuz he’s cleverer than I am.

I can’t even keep track of what I’ve posted here and what I haven’t. I love and hate Fringe right now. I’m excited to go back to something like normal time, if that ever every happens.

I’ve got an article on The Society, way behind the times you know, at Art Attack. And I spent Saturday “Fringe hopping” – four shows, four reviews at Phindie. Bastard Piece (which I loved), Emancipation Sweet (which kinda bored me), One Year (which rocked me) and Beyond the Light (which I was like eh).

I’m exhausted.

Here’s a picture of Lancelot killing a dragon:

Killin it dead!
A metaphor for your day, if you like
As Fringe mounts, what’s Pig Iron up to? — September 19, 2013

As Fringe mounts, what’s Pig Iron up to?

Well maybe I’m a bit behind the times.

I’m probably the last person to talk about Pay Up but here is my discussion: read it read it read it okay?

Thing is, I have to admit, walking out of Pay Up both my girlfriend and I were disappointed. I’m not gonna explain the show here, because so many people have, but there is a lot going on, and as an audience member, you often find yourself latching on to one element of a show to find meaning. And the one that both of us grabbed was the little shows – the eight beautifully performed little dramas, only six of which you get to see.

Where is the exchange of money for valuables more clear than when you're working customer service?
Well that sounds fair

Well, in the end, these are a bit sparse, even – it places – a bit predictable.

In a weird way, I think that this show is about disappointment, and anger, and irritation and impatience, and other negative emotions. Since life is a constant disappointment and irritation, we can hardly say it’s unfair. Art often attempts to create negative emotions – but the problem is that the initiated theater-lovers smile wryly, nodding to show that they get it, but only aesthetically – like a cheesy horror movie, we know what’s going on.  And the non-initiated don’t come back, or just say vaguely that they didn’t like it, but they aren’t sure why.

Give into the negative emotions, treat every moment of Pay Up as part of the drama, and you get a whole different story.

Fringe piles up, but like, in a good way; also, the role of the reviewer — September 17, 2013

Fringe piles up, but like, in a good way; also, the role of the reviewer

Today, on the first wintry-feeling day of Philly’s advancing autumn, I’ll post a picture of some hot coffee.

Well, does it make you feel warmer anyway?
“[. . .] a solfatarra of deeply felt verbal solfeggio.”
Oops, that’s not what that is. Well, do you feel warmer anyway?

More articles coming up, marking my adventures through Fringe-land.

Must-see: Ant Hampton and Tim Etchell’s The Quiet Volume. I would say that this is a must-see show.

Worth seeing: EgoPo’s A Doll’s House, directed by Brenna Geffers and performed by 14-year-old Maula Mackenzie.

I didn’t quite like This Is Not a Theater, at historic Plays and Players; though the art was nice.

Also worth commenting on is this review of A Doll’s House by Victor Fiorillo.

From my experience so far, Fiorillo is not anti-small theater nor is he the kind of reviewer who patently enjoys destroying companies and shows, so it is a bit puzzling to me how he could write some of the stuff in here. Lines like “[the audience’s] lukewarm (that’s generous) response at the end of the performance” seem to be completely fabricated; the audience around me seemed to enjoy the show even more than I did.

But “this show is not fit for public consumption”; I wonder if a reviewer should ever pen this. Does anyone reading this paragraph think that it’s an okay thing to say? Particularly for a show that has a lot of value in it. I wouldn’t say that this is the best show in the festival, nor near EgoPo’s or Brenna Geffers’ potential. However, it’s still great in a lot of ways and I think that any general audience (not one with Fiorillo’s or my high expectations) will enjoy the shit out of it.

“. . . not fit for public consumption.”

Not to be snitty, but maybe “consumption” is too much on Fiorillo’s mind. His article starts with two paragraphs of lamenting an empty belly and the anxiety of getting to his next show on time. That can make me like a show less than I should. I’d rather not chalk it up to lack of professionalism. But I wonder if anyone reading this can tell me: is it the reviewer’s role to say that a show is absolute shit?

Particularly when it’s actually pretty good?

It exists in the between-area; it’s not fully realized dramatic orgasm, like Ajax: the Madness; but it is surely not worth the panning Fiorillo gave it. Yet that review, which is the first that comes up on Google when you search for EgoPo and A Doll’s House, is surely going to cut down on audiences until the end of the run. Cheers to those audience members who, in the comments below, give their own opinion. Notice that no one in the comments agrees with Fiorillo’s opinion.

This is part of a larger discussion on the role of the reviewer, which I am slowly learning about. Here are two much more well-thought-out discussions about it.

The Fringe Going at Top Speed — September 13, 2013

The Fringe Going at Top Speed

You can't go here yet, because it's not open until October.
The blurred people illustrate the pace at which FringeArts is moving.

So it’s been a while, but FringeArts is going on at a frantic, impossible pace, and I will have reviews going up. My general article on the Fringe and how it works was posted at Art Attack last week: I’m very happy to say that no Philly.commers have commented on it yet – everyone is keeping their bigoted mouths shut. That, or no one is reading it – but I welcome your informed opinions and feedback!

The red ones are dead, the black ones are still alive but sleeping.
Motion and stillness in Ajax, The Madness

If there had been nothing of worth this year besides Attis Theater’s Ajax: The Madness, then I would have called the festival a success. Nearly every year there is one Presented show which changes the way I look at theater and the world around me, and this is the one. Unfortunately, it was also my first show, and though I will try not to let its excellence color the way I see every other show in the fest, it may somehow alter my perspective until next year’s Fringe. My brief review at Phindie is here.

The suitcases contain many characters, and so does Mary!
Mary and the suitcases

And of course the incomparable Aaron Cromie and Mary Tuomanen have created their Saint Joan: Betrayed. My preview piece is a bit out of date now (and, I later learned, a little bit untrue). This will be one of the front-runners in the Neighborhood Fringe. Cromie said in our interview that Tuomanen is “a chameleon” and that “people will really dig that she can become so many things.” This is absolutely true. It is a constantly pleasant experience, and there are some shocks and laughs that come out of Cromie’s toy theaters, as well.

What should you see that’s still going on? Well, definitely check out On the Concept of the Face, Regarding the Son of God at the Suzanne Roberts Theater. That’s just this weekend. It isn’t pleasant, but it is insanely powerful. It’s one of those plays that will actually change you. Pig Iron’s Pay Up is really interesting, and The Quiet Volume is a must-see. I have reviews of all of them coming . . . eventually . . . at Art Attack’s whim, really.



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Notes on Words

for Writers, Readers, Logophiles and Logorrhetics