A couple of days after the fact, I discover that we had a critic in at the Rialto scratch night on Wednesday. Tania Deaville in the Argus described our entry as “very direct and brave”. A pleasant contrast to my last bit of press, a well composed yet deeply shoddy piece of hatchet-jobbery regarding the pre-Christmas London performance of Something Rotten, my one-man show about Hamlet’s Uncle Claudius.
Not lightly do I choose and use the term “shoddy”; it is in fact the phrase that Susannah Shepherd, of ayoungertheatre.com, used to describe my show, in a review which, ironically, was top-full of glaring inaccuracies. I’ve no trouble at all with the perceived shortcomings in my performance (that’s entirely down to the eye of the beholder), but some of her statements about the script are at best misrememberings, and at worst outright lies: most spectacular was the assertion that “Seconds are spent on [Claudius’s] decision to have Hamlet offed in England, whilst hours are spent talking about Yorick the jester.” Allowing for poetic licence re the Yorick “hours” (the show runs barely 90 minutes in total, interval included), the fact is that the decision to dispose of Hamlet occupies not “seconds” but an entire scene lasting some ten minutes.
Aside from all that, the lady in question was several minutes late for the performance. No problem in principle – I’d agreed with front-of-house that latecomers should be admitted, though I didn’t really expect that to have to cover policy towards the press. It should be stated that I’ve done a fair of bit of reviewing myself over the years, and though quite a few people who know me well will testify that timekeeping is not my greatest triumph, I have never once turned up late for a show I was reviewing; if I had, however, I know I’d’ve been honest enough to mention the fact somewhere in my write-up – which the critic here in question failed to do.
Robert Cohen – a man in showbiz so stepp’d in that, should he wade no more, to go back were as tedious as go o’er. These are among his musings.