It’s a recurring theme of this blog that the critics often disagree. I recently noted here how I’ve lately found myself at odds with Michael Billington on various productions. And that’s healthy: a general critical consensus could suggest not so much that our tastes have all become mysteriously aligned, but that the artistic leaderships have also identified these and are now playing safe. I prefer things to be a bit more unpredictable, and that I therefore have to make up my own mind.
Take the recent reviews for The White Guard at the National’s Cottesloe: there was a flurry of overnight five star reviews from Michael Billington, Charles Spencer and Michael Coveney, but a more cautious three stars from Henry Hitchings in the Standard: “Visually and technically this is a remarkable production. However, it’s rather confusing, and the storytelling fails to resonate. The play’s historical and political burden is substantial but it isn’t genuinely engaging.”
And on the weekend, some more reviews endorsed this viewpoint.