Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Breaking news: Beacon Journal theater critic breaks balls

Posted By on Wed, Apr 30, 2008 at 5:30 AM

The Bang and the Clatter Theater group has been getting reviews. But this week the Beacon Journal lit them up.
It’s been a while since The Akron Beacon Journal has had a reputation for thought provoking reviews of anything, let alone theater. Thanks to massive lay-offs, diminishing content, and a totally demoralized newsroom, we’ve come to expect little from the paper’s critics. It’s enough if they just get the name of the director and a principal character or two into the review. However, this week writer Elaine Guregian throws readers a curve-ball by actually expressing a strong opinion about a play that wasn’t written by Shakespeare... You may have heard of The Bang and The Clatter Theater. Over the past three years, Bang founders Sean McConaha and Sean Derry have been putting on contemporary plays at Akron’s Summit Art Space and have received rave reviews for their hipness from all the local rags. Recently, the troupe opened up an outpost here in Cleveland, at 224 Euclid to be exact, and were greeted with much fanfare by The Plain Dealer’s critic. Still, all the buzz wasn’t enough to sway Guregian, who went to see the group’s Akron production of Cagelove, a story about a dude who is so obsessed with discovering the details of his fiancee’s rape – a memory which she has repressed with bottles upon bottles of booze – that he eventually forces her to reenact the scene with him, while he wears a Ken-doll mask. While Guregian applauds the group for trying to tackle such a difficult play, she doesn’t give it many passes after that. She accuses the ensemble of being “so incongruous or gratuitous, or simply ridiculous” that she was often gritting her teeth through the night. At one point she claims that “the play had gone off the rails so badly that I just wanted the authorities to arrive and clean up the mess.” “They certainly don't elicit any new understanding of the human condition,” Guregian writes “So why should we spend an hour and a half watching them?” A harsh review from a theater critic isn’t unusual. What strange was that the Beacon was breaking some balls. Now that’s unusual. – Denise Grollmus


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