Letters – Letters to Jenny

Dear Jenny,

Apparently a review of mine has upset one performer to the extent he has written at least one other artist to complain. The recipient was at a loss as to what he was expected to do. In discussing this, other performers are of the opinion that they just shrug bad reviews off. Chase Padgett laughingly related the story of the 2 star CBC review he received for his stellar, sellout 6 Guitars. Considering the performer repeatedly asked the audience to decide if he was a ‘sucker’ or an ‘asshole’, outrage at an answer to his question seems rather puzzling. He also complains I didn’t say whether the play was provoking; when I said just that in my second sentence.After around a thousand plays and over thirty years of reviewing, I’m not going to be afraid to express my opinion now.

Lisa Campbell

Dear Jenny,

Michelle Cook’s review of our show hurt my heart. Not because you didn’t like the show, I’m fine with that. Usually I can read bad reviews, forget them instantly, and go on with my day. But since reading your review I just can’t shake the horrible anguish that comes with knowing that someone out there believes that myself and my actors don’t know the difference between Star Wars and Star Trek. It’s killing me, Michelle. Remember when Q took Picard to the reality where Picard never made Captain? Remember how that made him feel? That’s how I feel right now only worse because I don’t even have Q here to crack jokes. I feel like a womp ratt that has been bulls-eyed, I feel like Worf when a “real” Klingon challenges his Klingonhood, I feel like I’ve been stabbed through the heart by my own child. For me, this is worse than when Data died. And that was a bad day for me. I took work off for that. As I write this I am sitting in a house that contains two radio controlled R2D2s, several X-wings, Bobba Fett’s ship in three different sizes, and no children. The lock screen of the phone on which I’m composing this email is an official Starfleet communication wallpaper and had I chosen to write you from my computer I would have booted up to an image of Kirk screaming about Kahn.

That line was a reflection of Zach’s character and not a reflection of the writer’s knowledge of the Rebellion, the Empire, or the Federation. We throw back to the joke later in the show when Zach responds to the Doctor, “Cool! Just like Star Trek.” The joke has worked on some shows, other shows it has fallen flat. I’m not blaming you for not “getting” it. It’s never the audience’s fault if something is not clear enough. I’m not asking you to alter your review or even respond to this email. I just want you to know- no, I NEED you to know that I’m not oblivious to the inner workings of the worlds of Trek and Wars.

Please understand that this is not sarcasm, I don’t hate you, and I don’t hate your review. I am dead serious when I say that I will not be able to sleep tonight knowing that someone out there thinks I’m a fake geek girl.

Fringe long and prosper and may the Fringe be with you,

Cathy Herbert

Dear Jenny,

Having read Ms. Campbell’s review submitted to the Jenny Revue about the life experience’s depicted in my show, “Trued on a Base Story: A Cautionary Tale”, I was somewhat disappointed that she chose to review the experiences themselves rather than the show about them. I was rather hoping to receive some comment on how effective or not the presentation was, how provoking perhaps, or how the production succeeded or failed in achieving its goals.

Choosing to attack me instead of my performance does little to help my production improve, and little to help fellow fringe-goer’s decide what to see, which I have always thought was the goal of any review: ask what a show aims for, and evaluate how close it comes to the mark.

Speaking from several years experience as a CBC Fringe reviewer myself, I know it’s a difficult task, especially when the subject material touches close to one’s heart, as mine obviously did in Ms. Campbell’s case. I should hope she is aware that, when it comes to beating me up emotionally, she will have to train up quite significantly before she reaches my weight class. Nevertheless, I do invite others to come to evaluate the show, rather than the experience I lived, since I can do nothing about the latter, but seek to make the former as entertaining and effective as possible.

John Sadoway