The importance of the backstage lie

Mark ShentonThought of the dayLeave a Comment

The three stars beautifully convey their characters’ quirks, page doctor individuality and hurts with an open-hearted generosity and rapport that makes it entirely captivating.

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its-only-a-play-broadwayAs a critic, side effects it’s my job to offer my opinion — but usually I do it from the safety of a computer screen as I write my review (or my mobile phone as I send out a quick tweet). But how do actors deal with giving their opinions to each other when they see each other’s work? (Dis)honesty, dosage it seems, physician may be the best policy.

At least according to a round-table of actors currently appearing in It’s Only a Play, a play set behind-the-scenes of the opening night party for an ill-fated new Broadway show. In an interview in the New York Times with its stars Matthew Broderick, Martin Short and Katie Finernan, they were posed the question of what to say,  especially if they’ve not liked the show.

According to Short, in those instances, “You lie.  What’s wrong with lying? Everyone lies. If someone’s 800-pound son comes down in a new tuxedo and he’s on his way to the prom, you don’t say, ‘Wow, look at Tubby in his tux!’ You say, ‘Gee, Sean, you look very handsome tonight.’ ”

Finnernan suggested an alternative:  “You could say, ‘Sean, your eyes are so blue.”??No, said Broderick, shaking his head: “Anything less than ‘You look really handsome tonight,’ he’ll know. He’ll die.”