Monday, May 26, 2008

Shaw Festival: The Stepmother

Finally some disagreement among the critics. I found the public premiere of Githa Sowerby's The Stepmother, discovered sitting for 80 years in a box in the basement of Samuel French's in London, quite exciting. It gets 3.5/4 stars from me:
When Githa Sowerby's Rutherford and Son premiered in 1912, most male journalists were, frankly, baffled. "Tall, fair, with a pretty face and a very pleasant voice, you might suspect her of eating chocolates and talking nonsense in the shade, but you would never dream that she could be the author of a play with all the grim force of a Pinero in the story and the sureness of a Galsworthy in the characterization," author Keble Howard wrote after an interview with her.

New York Times critic Adolph Klauber reviewed Sowerby's debut positively, but noted: "Even with Miss Sowerby as a shining example, we do not feel that the playwriting instinct in young ladies calls for immediate or emphatic encouragement."

My intention in quoting these eminent predecessors of mine is not merely to show what idiots critics can be, but that you see for yourself what Sowerby was up against in her playwriting career, and understand how The Stepmother, a 1924 unpolished gem getting its public premiere only now at the Shaw Festival, might have been left unproduced for so long for reasons other than inferior quality... Read on.
Others have not been so receptive. The Star's Richard Ouzounian gave it 2/4 stars, while the Sun's John Coulbourn awards it 3.5/5 stars. But wait, there are more critics: Lori Littleton in the St Catherines Standard is on my side, while John Law of the Niagara Falls Review is not.

UPDATE: Cushman's up and the words "soap opera" are nowhere to be found in his very positive review.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

^^ nice blog!! ^@^

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