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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: September 22, 2010 @ 1:40 pm

    Dispatches from the Fringe – #7

    Laurence Mackin

    Things have been a little quiet on the critical Fringe front in the past few days, but today were setting all that to rights. Today’s Arts page is a feast for the reviewing senses, and you might not find all of it agreeable.

    Peter Crawley has been hard at work in the past few days. World’s End Lane left him stunned and earned every one of its five stars (I’ve also written about it previously here). Sex, Lies and the KKK sees Abie Philbin Bowman in stand-up mode and focusing on racial and sexual stereotypes. It’s comedy with a purpose, but Crawley feels it doesn’t go far enough. I Love Guns, meanwhile, contains “dark, elliptical meditations about control, gender and the power of words” but he also reckons it is tedious and rootless, if maybe worth a shot.

    Sara Keating reckons Little Iliad is a tiny treat with a powerful punch, combining lost elements of the Iliad with thoughts on the US’s involvement in Afghanistan. The bittersweet monologue of Greenstick Boy contains some very promising material in its Thatcherite British setting. Meanwhile, Delicious O’Grady has been attracting a lot of interest with its oddball comedic source material of potatoes and famine. Keating reckons it is “cheap, offensive Paddywhackery” and “if that is your thing, you are welcome to it”. Ouch.

    Delicious O’Grady – set your Paddy to Whacked

    Michael Seaver finds the personal statement in The Work The Work is far more powerful than any political arguments, while Christine Madden gets a shot of The Cappuccino Culture’s gameshow, but finds it a little weak. Meanwhile, I took in Polarbear’s strong storytelling show Return, which brings a little bit of gritty Brum to the Fringe. Well worth a late afternoon’s viewing.

    You can read all these reviews here, and let us know below if you think we are wide of the critical mark or telling it like it is.

    • I won’t comment on my own show, but having spent the summer at Fringe’s in Brighton, Los Angeles & Edinburgh, I think all Fringe reviews should carry the disclaimer:

      ‘Margin of Error: 2 Stars’

    • Jen says:

      Fair point. Was in the Edinburgh Fringe and over the course of the month had reviews ranging from 1 to 5 stars! Its all only one opinion regardless. For me it would be nice to see “Pursued by a Bear’ stating his own opinion rather than reiterating those already in the public domain.

    • Laurence Mackin says:

      I’m kind of surprised we’ve gotten this far into the Fringe without a stars discussion. From my own perspective, I use the traditional star-rating system, namely:

      One star: awful
      Two stars: More bad than good
      Three stars: More good than bad
      Four stars: Excellent
      Five stars: The hardest one to really define – you will know it when you see it.

      I like the star system for a variety of reasons, and may blog post about it seperately, (although every blogger in the world has already done that, including our own film sage Donald Clarke). I do worry about applying stars and think long and hard about it. I think stars on their own don’t tell a whole lot, it’s the review you need to read in full and focus on.

      Jen – “For me it would be nice to see “Pursued by a Bear’ stating his own opinion rather than reiterating those already in the public domain.” On what? Every post on the Fringe I’ve had so far I’ve pointed towrads what the Arts desk has reviewed, some of which have been my own reviews for the paper. In instances where I haven’t had a full review (because another critic has covered it) but I have seen the piece, I’ve written about it here. I don’t think anyone has ever complained before that I haven’t ventured an opinion. Usually the problem is in shutting me up.

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