The quality of mercy is not strained, Portia famously declared in The Merchant of Venice; but the quantity of grievance is not limited these days in the theatre, and especially on Theatre Twitter, where I freely admit (see my column below for Friday) that I was an active contributor in contributing to the disquiet, and apologised for overstepping the mark.
But elsewhere across the week I also found myself under sustained attack for retweeting a column by another writer — the Telegraph’s arts editor Ben Lawrence — regarding the Old Vic’s cancellation of Into the Woods, which I thought raised valid points; but it was seemingly heretical to endorse that view in any way.
Meanwhile, the usually ultra-woke Royal Court found itself under attack for a play that doesn’t begin performances till this Wednesday, for its anti-semitic naming of a non-Jewish character with a Jewish name; they have since renamed the character, but it does beg the question of artistic director Vicki Featherstone whether or not she had even read the play that she programmed, let alone attended rehearsals — and how come, assuming she did, she didn’t notice this? As David Baddiel pointed out, it is a clear example of unconscious bias. And Featherstone has form in joining attacks on others who breach modern expectations, as when (now former) critic Matt Trueman dared to support another critic who had weighted in, so to speak, on whether another critic was right to comment on an actor’s physical size who was appearing in a production at another theatre.
The trouble with the ‘woke wars’ is that in holding others to a high standard, or policing their every comment, you yourself will have to be held to the same ones the you make mistakes. (And yes, I realise that I, too, have found myself at the receiving end of this phenomenon).
On the other hand, there are circumstances that are just patently wrong; as when a singer who’d appeared at Charing Cross Theatre’s late night lounge cabaret was subsequently thrown out of the venue by its external security agency personnel after being caught kissing another man in the toilet.
MY COLUMNS AND REVIEWS OF THE WEEK
Monday November 1:
- Last week’s That Was the Week That Was column for Oct 25-31): http://shentonstage.com/that-was-the-week-that-was-october-25-31/
- Weekly update of returning and new shows in London and beyond, including first nights: http://shentonstage.com/november-1-update-latest-scheduled-new-returning-shows/
- ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter for today: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-monday-november-1/
Tuesday November 2:
- My ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-tuesday-november-2/
- Round-up of my reviews: http://shentonstage.com/reviews-round-up-november-2/
Wednesday November 3
- My ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter: http://shentonstage.com/shentonstage-daily-for-wednesday-november-3/
Friday November 5:
- My ShentonSTAGE Daily Newsletter: http://shentonstage.com/friday-diary-covid-passports-for-wales-the-other-palace-changes-hands-again-and-mums-the-word-for-a-critic/
MY REVIEW (AND NOT-ABLE-TO-REVIEW) TWEETS:
REVIEWS BY OTHERS OF THE WEEK
CONTROVERSIES OF THE WEEK
COVID NEWS TWEETS OF THE WEEK
LONDON HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
REGIONAL/ TOURING AND FESTIVAL HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
BROADWAY (AND BEYOND) HEADLINES OF THE WEEK
THEATRE BIRTHDAYS OF THE WEEK:
FAREWELL OF THE WEEK:
AND FINALLY, SOME FAVOURITE (AND SOME DESPAIRING) TWEETS OF THE WEEK