On The Differences Between a Very Good Review and an Outright RAVE!

Compare and contrast: The euphoric, ecstatic, beside-himself excitement coming from Brad Hathaway in Potomac Stages, and the moved, appreciative, more reserved approval of Nelson Pressley in The Washington Post. Both will help. We’ll see what placement on a Saturday and word count have to with sales. The Post didn’t run any theater reviews on Friday. Then two come out on Saturday: Peter Marks’ front page 900+ word appreciation for the actors in the next two readings at the Kennedy Center’s Wilson Festival, and Pressely’s 600+ word piece on p 5. I’m not seeing the print edition down here in West Palm Beach, Florida where we’re presenting David Hare’s VIA DOLOROSA for two performances with Peace Cafes to follow (more on that soon). Sometimes a great picture, a good tag at the bottom of the front page of the Style section can move a show. But what can possibly move sales better than these words from potomacstages.com?

How is it possible that there are still tickets available for this? (For that matter, how is it possible that there are half-price tickets available through TICKETplace?) Without a doubt, this is one of the most enjoyable, most engrossing and most memorable productions we have in the Potomac Region right now and may well be one of the most memorable performances of the year. After all, twelve years ago, when we last had the opportunity to see Robert Prosky playing Arthur Miller’s most enjoyable single character, the aging used furniture dealer Gregory Solomon, he walked away with his second Helen Hayes Award for outstanding performance by a lead actor. When it was announced that he’d return to the role, and do so with with his two sons playing the brothers whose furniture Solomon wants to buy, everyone who loves live theater should have instantly snapped up all available tickets. Well, maybe some were waiting to find out if the show could possibly be as good as expected. Stop waiting. It is!

Okay now, read the rest and discuss. Here’s the potomacstages.com review. And now, here’s the Post review.

My feelings? Well, I should probably stop talking about reviews, that’s my feeling. I know what’s to be treasured, admired, and inspired by this show and this production and I know the Prosky family is moving audiences. I know this production is conferring absolute honor on Arthur Miller and that’s what I feel best about. And that’s what will move this show. And it’s moving, moving, moving already. In all senses of the word.

But just to come back for one sentence to the title of this entry: the difference between a very good review and and great big wet sloppy massively embracing review is the difference between a kiss on the cheek after a nice night, and, well, starting with a very nice night over dinner and then seeing it culminate gloriously, rapturously… Well, a man can dream. And the ecstatic review is the theater person’s fantasy come true.