Sunday, November 28, 2010


"Sherlock Holmes/Christmas Carol" got its first pair of reviews already, from a couple of different bloggers.

Here's the link from blogger Gomezticator:

" biggest gripe was the fact that the show was eventually going to end."

And here's the one from the Phinney Ridge website:
Referring to Stephen Grenley's portrayal of Watson: "a stunning display of American theater at its best."

See what I did right there? I cherry-picked a couple of key quotes from these two reviews, each short, under a sentence. They make it seem like the reviewers absolutely loved the show and thought it was one of the best things they'd ever seen.

As a PR person, I'm wary of using this technique. The thing is, you can take a pretty mixed review and make it sound like a four-star sensation.

So: "the directing was far from brilliant, in fact hum-drum, and the production overall delivers none of the excitement you'd expect from a professional company."

Can become: "the directing was...brilliant...the excitement you'd expect from a professional company."

When I was reviewing plays back in the '90s I was called one day by the artistic director of a local fringe company. At that time of theatrical bounty, there were many groups in Seattle that produced sub-par work, but under this man's leadership this one ambitiously managed to produce mediocre productions across all genres, from Shakespeare to musicals, from improv to new writing.

He wanted to talk about the scathing review I'd given his most recent effort, a promising play that he'd managed to sink through his poor casting, desperate costuming, abysmal lighting and sound, and above all terrible direction. He was angry, but as we discussed each element he agreed that it wasn't very good.

Finally, exasperated and needing to end the conversation, I said, "Can you please tell me if there's anything inaccurate in my review?"

Gathering up his outrage, he answered, "I've read through this twice, and there is NOTHING here that I can quote!"

So: those reviews right above? The ones with the killer quotes?

Ah, go ahead and check. They're both raves.

Thanks, reviewers. I appreciate you taking the time to see shows and to share your thoughts about them--particularly when you had such a good time!

1 comment:

  1. I'm proud to say that I never bent a review quote like that when I was doing theatre PR. If it wouldn't stand up to scrutiny, I didn't use it. Oh, btw, you can quote this: Longenbaugh's script is a delight. He mixes references known only to the Holmes enthusiast into the well-known Dickens story in a way that will thrill the Sherlockians without confusing the general audience.