Welcome to part two of what unexpectedly became a double assessment of the review process. I was more than happy to move on to a brand new topic, until reality slapped me in the face with a hard slice of truth. I thought all I had to worry about were reviews from the professionals. What I forgot about were comment sections.
Goldstar (the website where you can buy half-price tickets for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee at the Cupcake Theatre) has a section where consumers can write reviews of the show they have purchased tickets for. It’s like Yelp, you idiots. The idea is sound in theory, but not if the system is abused.
Currently there are seven reviews of the show on Goldstar. They are all extremely complimentary. Not a bad thing to say in the bunch. Except for one. One man stands above the others hurling negativity like a monkey hurls- well, you know.
I won’t give this gentlemen the huge amounts of publicity that publishing his name on my blog would provide, but I will present part of his review: in regards to the cast’s use of the original show’s characterizations, our reviewer said “This worked for most of the cast except William Barfée who would slip out of voice occasionally and I would rather have had him focusing on character than maintaining a voice performance.” Two things: 1) nice run-on sentence bro, and 2) turns out I’m pretty sensitive!
For those who don’t know, I am the actor who portrays said Barfée. Just yesterday I wrote the following in reference to reacting emotionally to criticism: “I – of course – do not run into that problem, having total faith in every acting choice I have ever made…” Well I guess it’s easy to facetiously talk a big game when you think you’re invincible, but in the stark light of negative feedback, I have been thrown for a loop.
The writer goes on to say uniformly nice things about the cast (including – I hope – myself); “…definitely no weak performances overall. I thoroughly enjoyed myself and would recommend it.” He even gave the production five stars, making all of this even more baffling. Why bother writing something about one individual’s performance and then basically contradict it? Especially when that “one individual” is me!
My main issue is the implication that the voice I do represents the entirety of my character work – as if my entire performance rests solely on that trait. Whether or not I lost the voice at any point, I can’t really say, since I am me and not the audience, but I have put in more than a little work on this production. But- what if I’m wrong? Even worse, what if he’s right?
I took a directing class in college. As part of the syllabus I had to read a book on the subject. It was extremely pretentious and I hated almost all of it, especially a particular passage that compared actors to people with intellectual disabilities. The director – the book claimed – must pull an appropriate performance out of his less-able actors. It is an awful concept, and it is offensive (the author did not choose his descriptive words quite as diplomatically as I have), but here I find myself wishing a better performance could have been pulled out of me.
Self-confidence is a fickle thing (well, maybe it’s just mine). Twenty-hours ago I was riding high, but now I’m more full of doubt than Meryl Streep in Doubt (by the way, there’s no reason for her to be doubtful; Phillip Seymour Hoffman did that shit). “The few complaints are going to ring a lot louder and truer than the many good points…” I wrote that yesterday, and here I am falling into that very trap.
“Reading your own reviews is a dangerous move.” I wrote that too. I should have heeded Wiser Me’s advice and stayed away, but hubris laid me low this day. Perhaps I’ll hire a assistant to hide all the bad press from my eyes. Gosh, can you imagine how great that would be? To live in complete ignorance like we did when we were younger? I’ve called a lot of things “The Dream” in my life, but that truly is The Dream. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to practice a voice.