Jun 25, 2007

AA Gill searches for what Theatre is missing... discovers it is AA Gill.

News reaches me from the internet's latest bright (ahem) young things, the West End Whingers, that the critics have taken another savaging - this time not from the theatre but from a fellow critic (of sorts...). Stand up Mr AA Gill.

Now, like the whingers, it came as a surprise to me that AA Gill reads anything other than AA Gill, but, picking up the axe where Nick Hytner sheepishly dropped it, he scythes into our much-maligned reviewers with barely concealed glee - casting them as a small platoon of soggy, anoraked miserablists, scuttling up the aisle like woodlice as soon as the light comes up.

"Where" he asks "are the voices that ring out as being aesthetically intelligent, passionate, current and, most important, entertaining?"

Again, as the Whingers identify, Gill's main criticism of the critics is that they don't write well enough - failing to pepper their prose with the kind of succulent bon mots that he obviously adores so much. They are, apparently, a joyless, lifeless amalgam who all write with such a uniformity that he (the arbiter of all things) can't tell which is which.

And this, he claims, is a major problem because, rather self-aggrandisingly for a critic, he also suggests that reviewing is the lifeblood of any cultural form (nay, the beating heart of western civilisation)...
Look at restaurants and food. The incremental improvement in the quality and sophistication and enjoyment of eating, cooking and buying food has coincided with the rise of good, angry, witty, opinionated writing.
And by 'good, angry, witty, opinionated writing' AA Gill obviously means the good, angry, opinionated writing of one AA Gill. Yes, that's right - if only AA Gill wrote about theatre, then as surely as the sun rises, audiences would abandon Connie and her nuns in their droves to revel in theatre at its most complex and avant-garde. Forget the encroachment of television, the celebrification of Western Society, the rise of the Hollywood film, nay, the whole history of the second half of the twentieth century... if only the reviewers were more like AA... I mean Kenneth Tynan, then theatre wouldn't be in the irreparable state of disrepair that AA Gill says it is.

You can almost hear his coterie of be-suited dinner party chums pleading with him over a tasteful bottle of Pinotage, "please AA, please... lend you're golden touch to those god forsaken no-hopers scrounging in the ashes of English theatre... save them from themselves..."

But no - AA Gill will reserve himself to the easier task of drumming up a few tired cliches and couple of really, really dead white men (Shaw... anyone?). After all, those who can do, those who can't criticise, and AA Gill? Well, he criticises those who criticise, apparently.


Interval Drinks said...

Yes, I don't read his restaurant write-ups anymore. Half a page of mildy diverting anecdotage, with only the most cursory of mentions of the restaurant in question in the last couple of paragraphs. That's not reviewing as I understand it...

Statler said...

Nice. A much more entertaining response than my own rather poor attempt at discussing what we want from reviews.

But I think letting Gill loose reviewing theatre wouldn't quite go far enough in bringing us an entertaining writing style - bring on Jeremy Clarkson I say.

Sean said...

I love your blog because I can so often totally disagree with your comments, which is brilliant. Plus you are a good and entertaining writer (ticking Mr AA Gill's box there then).

But with this piece I think you are totally correct! Gill has not sen the bigger picture, which you allude too. But of course you are spot on in identifying Gill as Gill's biggest fan.

Andrew (a West End Whinger) said...

Four things, Andrew.

1. That's a very good title for your post.

2. You write as entertainingly as AA Gill (I laughed out loud) but with the added bonus of also saying something interesting. I think you could be the answer to the conundrum.

3. You could have put another "ahem" after "young" but you didn't. Bless.

4. Must he henceforth be known as the AA/Saga Gill?