Two reviews of To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday were published this week, providing this director with a mixture of joyful praise and bitter-tasting yet necessary critical feedback. Both reviews can be found online at www.pegasusnews.com.
The more positive review comes from Rick A. Elina, Theatre Critic for the North Dallas Gazette. Mr. Elina’s background as a playwright is evident in the way he pens his review, making even his rebukes a pleasure to read. Fortunately, rebukes are few and far between as he presents his experience of a joyful evening of theater and giving insightful and poetic perspectives on the story and each character’s journey. While taking issue with a few key scenes, for the most part Mr. Elina praises the cast, calling particular attention to Larry Jack Dotson (“superb”), Rebekah Kennedy (“extraordinary”) and Arlette Morgan (“divinely inspired”). Lastly, I was humbled to have a critic of Mr. Elina’s reputation consider my work to be “remarkable direction.”
Equally humbling, Clyde Berry of John Garcia’s The Column, a major online daily entertainment-related column in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, provided honest criticism from his perspective. He gives kudos for the set (decorated to perfection by David Jetre), lighting design (props to Gillian producer, Scott Croy) and Larry Jack Dotson’s “delightfully created” performance. He also grants that the story moves “at an effective pace, and the piece moves quickly.” Beyond that, Mr. Berry has a lot to say about what he didn’t like about the play. Some of his views clearly sprout from a clash in theatrical style; other opinions were a bit befuddling; but some of what he wrote was good criticism, a teaching aid for which I am grateful.
The polarized nature of the reviews might lead one to think Mr. Berry got stuck viewing an “off-night” for the production. However, both critics attended the very same performance. Such is the subjective nature of the critic. Often, our own preferences and expectations color our perception of any work we view with critical eyes. Who’s right, who’s wrong? The truth is each reviewer gave an honest interpretation of their experience of the show. One liked it, the other did not. Simple as that.
Meanwhile, there were many other critics whose opinions go undocumented. These are the kind people who came to our opening weekend, laughed and cried in all the right places, and left our show thanking the performers for a great time. If you have seen our show, I’d be interested in your feedback as well. If you haven’t yet come out to Mesquite, I invite you to do so and leave your insights, good and bad, here on this blog entry.
To Gillian On Her 37th Birthday runs for two more weekends with shows tonight and tomorrow at 8 PM, a Sunday matinee at 2:30 PM, and 8 PM shows next Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. Only six performances left! More information can be found at www.mctweb.org. For reservations, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 972-216-8126.