by Megan Mooney
So, a lot of you have come here because of Fringe, which means you may not know the background and philosophy. And, this is actually kind of a weird time to bring it up, except that I will soon be posting a ‘2nd Opinion Review’ and I figure it might help to have some context.
One of the core tenets of Mooney on Theatre (MoT) is that everyone’s opinion is just that. Opinion. There is no authoritative source on what is good and what is bad, what is quality and what is schlock. There is only ‘what I liked’ and ‘what I didn’t like’ – which, clearly, is going to vary from person to person.
Here at MoT we express our unique opinions, which can certainly can be unique within the group of authors. Just because a review is posted on MoT it doesn’t mean it reflects the opinions of the writers, just the opinion of *that* writer.
How someone sees a piece of theatre (or anything else, really) is effected by their experiences. This isn’t limited to their experiences with theatre, but includes their everyday life experiences too. Although all the experiences of the writers are relevant, that’s just WAY too big a topic to address, so I’ll tell you a bit about the experience with theatre. We have writers who have experience in theatre recreationally, who are in the theatre industry, have an educational background in theatre, and who have no theatre background whatsoever.
The opinions of all of them are important to me. I think it’s important to know what someone without a theatre background thinks of a show, since that’s the type of person I would love to court when it comes to the age old ‘bums in seats’ thing. I feel like focusing on people with a theatre background is kind of like preaching to the choir, those people are already likely to be checking out what’s playing about town.
The key for me is that the writing on Mooney on Theatre include a flavour of the piece. Not a focus on what the play is about, but rather, what the play feels like.* Obviously this is going to include the writer’s opinion, but hopefully it will also include enough information for readers to make up their own mind about whether or not it seems like something they may enjoy.
Sometimes it’s a challenge for me to keep theatre jargon out of the review because I’m a hard-core theatre-geek, but I do try. For me it’s FAR more important that the comments be accessible to a wide audience. Placing a show within the broader context of theatre theory is not important to me. Like I said, it’s about giving a flavour.
What this means is each writer on Mooney on Theatre owns their own opinion. No one on the site is expected to ‘tow-the-line’. It is completely understood that opinions are personal, and that as such they will differ from person to person. Which means they can be challenged.
This brings us to the ‘2nd Opinion Review’ option. Given the format of Mooney on Theatre, I am totally fine with a company asking for a second opinion review. As long as they understand that it may mean they have two negative reviews on the site instead of one, and that, if the second review is positive, it will not replace the previous review, that one will stay posted, then I’m game.
If someone asks, I will do my best to oblige. Since I am the editor, as long as I was not the original reviewer, I will try to take on the ‘2nd Opinion Review’ myself.
There you have it, the story behind a ‘2nd Opinion Review’. I know it may be a bit weird, but frankly, so am I. It’s one of my many lovable qualities.
* Some of this may not be as evident during Fringe, because there is so little time to cram in so many shows. But we still do our best.