Reviewers huh, can't live with them, can't thrown them under a bus, feed them to sharks or remove their finger nails with pliers, at least not without getting arrested shortly afterward and spending some time in the big house.
One of the "features" of Resolution, the annual dance bun fight in London, is they grant the participants the pleasure of being reviewed by a group of "experts" in the field. Presumably a large cow field full of................. well, full of cows!
Now, here in TheLab™, we think reviews are almost certainly more redundant than Andy Coulson so we've brought Fauston Carpet in, from the Amsterdam Research and Science Enterprise, to dissect one of the most recent word salads.
This particular review was written by Graham Watts, his Twitter bio describes him thus;
"Dance Writer/Critic. Secretary of Critics' Circle Dance Section in UK. Writes for leading dance magazines & websites - in UK, Europe, USA, Japan & cyberspace."
Over to you Fauston:
Hello readers, it's been a long time. So, The "Secretary" of the Critics Circle hmm? Big words from a man who specialises in making cups of tea and having affairs with overweight business types, but I digress, Mr Watts' words are in red.
"Each work in this mediocre programme lacked fresh movement ideas and struggled, in varying degrees, to convey clarity of purpose."
Right off the bat Mr Watts is trying to assert authority. Or, much more likely, he's caught up in the proverbial mid-life crisis moment when once sane men start buying motor cycles and sports cars because they have finally realised that they are somewhat lacking in the penis department.
Basically, "mediocre" is a Porsche 911 in white with red leather interior.
Additionally, using the word "mediocre" is a way of saying "I've seen more dance than you so I know what I'm taking about." He doesn't of course but, like many small children, hyperbole is all they can conjure in order to get any attention.
"Jack Webb gave the strongest performance in a self-choreographed, aggressive, Kafkaesque solo."
The only word that has any relevance in that sentence is "Kafkaesque". Mr Watts uses it to let the readers that know what it means that he has read Franz Kafka, or at least the Wikipedia entry about Franz Kafka.
If you don't know what that word means then Mr Watts sounds clever because he knows a weird word that you don't. 2-0 to him, in his mind at least.
"It progressed from a series of simple rotational movements through a spiral of hyper-flexible contortions and increasingly manic behaviour until descending - following a prolonged balance in a headstand supported on his forearms - into an exhausted and trancelike state."
This is the cookie cutter moment. Reviewers have to describe at least some part of the movement in words, to let us know they were at least paying a little bit of attention to the stage. The fact that his description could relate to any dance work ever made, because it is deliberately vague, is neither here nor there, in his mind at least.
"Although a marathon of physicality, it was overlong (at 23 minutes) and the performance achieved little added value in its final third."
Review writers are, as discussed, like small children and they share a similar attention span. I mean, you can't possibly expect them to pay attention for 23 whole minutes! 2 hours without a break of Pina Bausch, no problem of course because they're reviewers and they know who's ass they really need to kiss.
"Joseph Mercier's Tuga produced some arresting imagery within an effective use of space and light...."
Translation: This is the 4,000th review I've written, I wonder when I last wrote "effective use of space and light"?
"Boundless energy characterised the occasional flurries of dance, including a burst of air guitar, but the quality of movement was unremarkable. The central character's constant waiting............"
"Boundless" married with "constant waiting" erm..... I don't think so Mr Watts. You can't do one whilst exhibiting the other, I mean come on! Either take a creative writing class or a buy a dictionary dude! In the writing world we call these "pointless opposites".
"Mercier failed to convey a coherent or consistent purpose."
Much like your review, it's like you're kindred spirits or maybe you were projecting your own sub-conscious doubts about this whole "review" in your writing?
"Emelie Wångstedt's 'Do the performance' was the emptiest of vessels."
Uh oh, bad poetry alert! As well as pretending to read Kafka you're also pretending to read Byron or maybe you just saw that episode of Friends, you know, the one with the racist waiter that Monica falls for!
"Seu Jorge's acoustic foreign-language version of Rebel Rebel had me searching iTunes"
Translation: I'm down with the kids, I use iTunes and I have an iPod even though I'm a 145 years old and I'm the only man on Earth that suffers from penis envy.
"The three performers exchanged occasional anxious looks, suggesting a work still in progress"
Translation: Or maybe they were acting who knows, who cares, when the hell can I get out of here and drive my Porsche again?
"The instructive title should have ended with a bold exclamation mark!"
Again, I feel this is some sub-conscious projection. What he's really saying is my career should have ended years ago but thus far nobody has noticed that I'm still doing this, how much longer can it last?
In conclusion, you could basically do this with any review ever written. My tip? If you want to know what a show is like, either watch a video or get off your backside and go to the theatre yourself. Art is too important to have the experience translated by mindless hacks. Maybe that's not funny, but it does have the advantage of being true.
goede nacht en veel geluk