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Critic Courageous To Pen Bad Review



In her column, "A Critique of Crimson Critics," (Nov. 7) Reader Representative Noelle Eckley has only partially represented her readers. Further attention to the issue of student reviews of student productions can benefit both the theater community and its audiences, The Crimson and its readers.

Nobody likes a bad review, but publications cannot be expected to spew out nothing but praise for all theatrical endeavors. Speaking for myself, and judging by the comments of my peers, the main complaints against The Crimson are not the negativism of some reviews, but the unfortunate tendency of The Crimson to publish incomplete and incorrect information, and to write reviews as if by formula.

Though letters posted on expressed reservation about Susannah R. Mandel's '98 harsh personal criticism in her review of the HRDC production of Macbeth, a number of the postings heaped praise on the head of Mandel for an unusually insightful and informed review.

The very same readers who chided Mandel for being overly critical of a single actor in the show also wrote such comments as: "among the best reviews I have ever read," "I'm glad someone had the balls to print a pan of a show," "dead on" and "I loved the review." There is a big difference between good reviews and well-written reviews. Mandle's review was very bad, but it was very well-written.

It takes a certain amount of talent to write a good theater review, and just as not all shows on campus can be successful, not all reviews can be well-written. But I am pleased that The Crimson appears to be making an effort to improve the general level of review writing.

This said, what I find most disappointing about The Crimson's new arts section is that coverage of the arts at Harvard still consists almost exclusively of reviews. There are so many other ways in which arts can and are covered in newspapers other than The Crimson. Gili Bar-Hillel, visiting student from Tel-Aviv University

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