I'm marking this down in public, because it bears noting.
In February I saw AntiGravity, an utterly insipid and vomitous exercise in fusing Superbowl halftime calisthenics with "art". I was on tour in Hawaii, and our host had some tickets. We were all mortified by it--it's crass, loud and utterly witless, an inane and obvious effort to infect arts centers with a thinly-veiled infomercial of bodies choreographed in pathetic, repetitive patterns. It was seriously one of the worst things I've seen in my life, and like any professional in the theatre I've seen a lot that's bad--it's soulless, meaningless noise that lowers the bar for dance and even spectacle. It's shit, backward and forward.
Today, Ginia Bellafante files this review about the same show, now playing in New York:
AntiGravity: The 2007 Tour - Theater - Review - New York Times
No, it's not a rave--but it's coolly positive. Perhaps Ms. Bellafante enjoys the fact that the performance aspires to nothing and has nothing to say--that it is up front about being nothing but style and energy that signify nothing. That would jibe with her track record, which has been progressively more dismal--while intelligent, she has no empathy for the performances she watches, preferring instead to see shows of small ambition that match very particular criteria she has for what the performance should be--she usually sets this forth in the opening paragraphs of the piece.
She's not a total loss in my opinion, and that's what makes this so painful--she can write, and when a piece she's reviewing doesn't have an emotional heart she's adept at working through the whys and wherefores of her experience in the theatre, something many other reviewers struggle with. She is clearsighted when she isn't missing the point entirely, and I'm not being facetious--that really is something, and I believe she could even be a good critic someday, with some attention to the "human problem."
But this review of AntiGravity, for me, is beyond the pale. It calls into question her basic competence, and her ability to process what she sees as a theatrical critic--it is the kind of garbage I would expect from a stringer on a paper much less important than the Times. It is the kind of review that makes me remember that her work before the theater section was confined to fashion and television reporting: many pieces of flash and sizzle devoid of the complexities of human psychology.
I know AntiGravity--and if Ginia can see that work and not know it as the cheap, stuntacular garbage it is, she is a total fucking moron. The sad thing is I know that she is not a moron, so I believe instead that she likes and enjoys cheap, stuntacular garbage--it's flashy, has pretty bodies and perhaps reminds her of the joys of not thinking, not grappling with ideas, emotions or life. I can only pray she returns to reviewing fashion shows and television as soon as possible, where I think her skill set will be put to better use . . . though after this incident, I would actually prefer someone more perceptive and empathetic review the new Marc Jacobs fall collection or write a 900 word epistle on the meaningfulness of Scrubs.