I have many regrets about theater, but most of them have nothing to do with my criticism. That's not very humble of me, I know, and it certainly isn't in keeping with the submerged Catholic (and/or class-based) guilt that secretly powers this paper. But theater in this town is crusty, moribund, and dull, and somebody really ought to apologize.

That said, I did make one regrettable error during my short tenure as performance editor, and that was giving my review of TheatreRUN's sweet performance triptych so little space. (Mostly I regret this because Christopher Frizzelle jumped down my throat when he saw the show weeks later, and then devoted his entire books column to it the week after it had closed.) Russian Doll wasn't a perfect show, but the ensemble worked well together and their physical storytelling techniques were intriguing. Maybe I was depressed because I had drinks afterward with some out-of-towners, and upon learning what I do for a living, they immediately asked me what else they should see while they were in Seattle. I couldn't think of a single thing to recommend.

I regret that audiences in Seattle seem to conform to one of two demographic groups: Cornish students and the elderly. (I should say that attending openings skews my perspective a bit, but even when I see shows later in the run, they follow this general pattern.) Ten-dollar tickets for people under 25--a deal offered by most of the big Seattle theaters--is a good concept, but the discount hasn't been sufficiently publicized. The big theaters also need to learn that young audiences are never going to flock to plays that were chosen to please donors and boards rather than audiences. For this reason, I also have to regret the top-heavy nonprofit structure that makes such priorities popular. (Props, by the way, to the for-profit Capitol Hill Arts Center for playing with capitalist fire.)

It's also unfortunate that theaters don't time their openings with a greater degree of coordination. Can there really be nobody in an entire city who might like to kick off the new year by seeing a play (please note the feeble theater calendar, below)? Conversely, were there thousands of people who wanted to see those 10 or 12 plays that opened simultaneously in the fall, and an equal number for the numerous shows set to open the week of January 20? I would have really liked to see Eleemosynary at the Theatre Off Jackson--a play I like for mostly sentimental reasons, and a theater I like because it's close to the only good bubble tea in town--but the autumnal glut conspired against me.

Too many of the people who wrote in to applaud or condemn my survey of other critics' reviews of Intiman's Our Town refused to let The Stranger print their letters. It was amusing that so many responses to my exhortation for dialogue were labeled private, but it was frustrating that I couldn't share the joke. I also mildly regret coming down so hard on the Seattle Times' Misha Berson; her sins were slight compared to the other critics I slaughtered. And if she issued apologetics for a certain ridiculously poor performance--well, at least she noticed he was bad. One thing I do not regret is failing to take Mr. Skerritt's advanced age into consideration when I eviscerated his performance as the Stage Manager. Audiences don't get a get-out-of-jail-free card, and neither should actors. Especially not actors with marquee names who are (for that very reason) cast in leading roles.

I regret that Diana Moves' robust advance publicity paid off so heartily; while Her Phantom Limb's subtler, creepier stickers were sparsely rewarded. I personally regret devoting an entire column to ripping apart the former, and sprinkling just 28 words upon the latter (the play itself was short and dainty, but that's no excuse).

Also regrettable: that it's so damn difficult to get to Georgetown in the evening using public transportation. For future reference, you can take the 60 from Capitol Hill, and the 131 back to downtown, but that's awfully annoying. And woe to those who aren't traveling from a central location. This complaint is relevant because some of the best theater in town is happening at JEM Arts Center (which, in another annoying twist, is also called the Edward Reed Arts Center).

Finally, I'd like to lodge token complaints about the following endemic phenomena: the word "theater" spelled like we're still a British colony, indiscriminate standing ovations, and that stupid pre-show warning about unwrapping hard candy. Who the fuck brings hard candy to the theater?


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