Harlow Theatre Company: “Does your reviewer have any experience in theatre…..?”

Lifestyle / Wed 4th May 2016 am31 07:16am

REVIEWING amateur dramatics is a perilous task. Some say, that you can criticise the MP, criticise the Chief Constable, criticise the local football team but heaven forbid if you criticise Mary who played the maid in the latest production of “Whoops Vicar, where’s my trousers?”

Our editorial policy is this: On the one hand, it is amateur and has to be seen in context. On the other, you are charging folk money and with that stipulation comes (not necessary logically) an element of examination.

Since we launched in July 2013, things started off swimmingly for us when we began to review Harlow Theatre Company. They seemed startled that reporters actually turned up!

Since then, we have seen some outstanding performances such as As You Like It and Ann Frank, to name just two. Oh and Boeing Boeing was the highlight of the year.

But….here it comes….there came the review of Punk Rock in late 2014. Our reviewer thought it was OK but wasn’t that enthused. It had followed on the heels of Thieves Like Us, where, our reviewer had omitted any mention of leading lady.

Since then, we haven’t received a single preview or invite to review. Could be just an omission and to be honest when you are a one-man operation, publishing around thirty stories a day, then these things can go un-noticed.

But, we sent an e mail to the chair of HTC. No reply.

We then sent a request for press passes for Betrayal which begins on Wednesday night. We had a reviewer lined up and wanted to get in early as we heard the best and brightest of the Guardian, The Stage and the Stornaway Free Press were clambering for passes.

We received a reply from the director, Dolly Howlett, who asked if the person from YourHarlow had “experience in the theatre” as it is “Harold Pinter.”

What can we say? Some may say “Get over yourself” Others may say: “Fair call, it is a complex play and so it is only fair that we examine the credentials of each and every person who comes to “criticse” it.

What it has done, is led us to re-evaluate our “qualified to review” criteria for Your Harlow.

We are delighted to announce that our reviewer for Menopause the Musical at the Harlow Playhouse tonight has asked for the doors to remain open and Prosecco on tap. We did send Eric, our Leeds Univ intern to preview the LadyBoys of Bangkok, and now when he comes in, we might have to ask a few tricky questions.

This reporter learned to love theatre through the truly wonderful enigmatic and cerebral head of english at St Marks called Judith Pieris. It was those early stage versions of Othello, Murder in the Cathedral and Juno and the Paycock, to name just a few that, the late seventies, set me on a path for life.

And we like to think (Yes, Mrs Pieris, I am aware I started a sentence with a conjunction) that Your Harlow was founded by a grant from the Carnegie Trust that encouraged young journalists to take their first steps into the grounds of the fourth estate. We will continue to encourage them. Et Tu?

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