Actor/producer David Roberts offers reviews of theatrical events for everything from cabaret to national tours to off-off-Broadway to Broadway at his Theatre Reviews Limited web site. (He also writes reviews for the new Edge magazine.) You’ll find reviews of small shows you probably won’t find elsewhere.
Like several other Web-based, industry-grown reviewers we’ve mentioned in the past, his form of criticism is a kinder, gentler version than what we usually see in the major press. Rather than beat a show to death and then continue defiling the corpse, Mr. Roberts commends a production for its high points and wishes its creators better success in the future. It’s obvious that he is more concerned with a healthy theatre than some unobtainable, elitist perfection. His writing is clear and straightforward, without the self-conscious word play of some less proactive theatre critics. The volume of reviews is impressive for a single reviewer. (It’s most likely the fact of Mr. Roberts being the sole reviewer that explains the relatively small number of reviews.)
If there’s anything about the site to quibble with, it’s the organization. He breaks the reviews into “Current” and “Past” reviews – but why does the “Current” section offer revews for shows that right there on the page are listed as having closed? Perhaps he’s defining “current” and “past” differently than I’m understanding them?
There is a large and growing number of sites devoted to theatre criticism on the Net, and it’s not hard to find sites with a more comprehensive list of shows reviewed. But few sites offer Mr. Roberts’ thoughtful, caring criticism and devotion to the theatre.
A Theatregoer’s Guide
With a background in physics and mathematics, theatre devotee Kyohsuke Kudoh has applied his powers of observation and scientific methodology to the creation of a manual for theatregoers entitled, “How to see theatre and dance.” (Here, in English; here, I think, in Japanese – in any event, the opening page for his site is located at http://member.nifty.ne.jp/kkudoh/). The original Japanese version of this guide was published serially in the Kyoto University newspaper for students.
The basic idea behind Kudoh’s guide is that all forms of theatre, from dance to plays to bunraku, are based on the concept of focus – where the focus is placed, how it moves, how it passes from one player to the next. Kudoh carefully explains what he sees as each form of focus and how the viewer may recognize and follow the different types.
Although his English is at times less than perfect – I believe, for example, that his title would reflect his intentions better if it read “How to view theatre and dance” – his meaning is always clear. And though I may not agree with everything he has to say, the thought and detail that went into this essay are highly commendable. Well worth the read!