Thursday, August 14, 2008

Leaving at intermission

It's something I try very hard not to do--leave a show at intermission. In the past three years I've seen upwards of 250 shows and I can count on half a hand the number of shows that I've left at intermission. I've never done it when reviewing a show.

However, I am on a judging committee and the theaters are kind enough to comp my entry into the show. I try to honor that gift. I do so by trying not to attend on sold-out nights, but arriving at the show open and ready to receive what the artists have to offer, and being attentive and focused during the show.

So the question becomes, is it ever acceptable for reviewer or a judge to leave a show without seeing the whole thing. I tend to say yes because there comes a point at which you know things are not going to get better and staying for another act wont' help things any. Also, I think reviewers and judges have to respect their own time as well as the theater productions they see. There comes a point where if you see too much of theater done poorly, it becomes increasingly difficult to appreciate theater as a whole. It is too much of a bad thing that can make critics cynical and grumpy--two traits that no one likes for their critics to have.

I don't have a good answer for this question. I do know that I won't leave a show unless I can do it unobtrusively and in a way that is not rude. But I don't think I'm prepared to say that I'll never do it.


Michelle said...

While I agreed with most of your article I have to say that you should never say never when it comes to the second half of a performance getting better. I am speaking from experience with a production I was participating in several months ago. Act 1 dragged on and was for the most part uneventful but then the second act exploded and made the experience as a whole for the audience and cast a lot of belly laughing fun.
Michelle Mainwaring
p.s. we are currently performing a two hander about bipolar disorder that breaks the normal conventions of theatrical staging and was just awarded the honour of the title "Best of Fringe" for the Windsor International Fringe Festival and we are donating two performances for charity fundraising.
More info at
please drop a line if you would like more info.
Cheers from Ontario

Kerry Waters said...

As a judge/reviewer, as hard as it may be sometimes, I think it is an obligation to see the entire show. Especially since not all characters are always in Act I. And to judge anything fairly I think you have to see it as a whole. I am not a judge or reviewer but, no matter how bad, I have only left one show at intermission in 15 years. I just feel I owe it to the actors and the theatre to stay. But basically I think it comes down to my view on politics: if you don't vote you have no right to complain, you give up that right, and I think as a judge or reviewer if you leave at intermission you've given up your right to judge or review the show.

Kerry Waters said...

My opinion on this is the same as my view on politics: if you don't vote you have no right to complain. i.e. if you don't see the entire show you give up your right to review or judge it.