Hot off the press! St. Pete Times and Creative Loafing reviews of Blackbird. Follow the links for the full reviews.

“Aside from the power of Harrower’s naturalistic dialogue — at times obviously influenced by David Mamet — and the heartfelt depth of the two performances, what’s most impressive about Blackbird is its moral ambiguity … [it] offers its audience a host of uncomfortable questions, and ends intriguingly without answering any of them. So its power endures, and even grows, after you’ve left the theater and started to think about what you’ve seen and heard.” – St. Pete Times

” … tense, emotionally supercharged drama is excellently acted by Paul J. Potenza and Caitlin Eason, potently directed by Karla Hartley, perfectly situated by set designer Scott Cooper … the performances are deeply impressive … I can recommend Blackbird to anyone who appreciates the art of performance.” – Creative Loafing

One of the more interesting, or maddening, or unpredictable aspects of what we do is how critics will receive it. It’s very rare to get unanimous praise, which we’re always happy to get but never count on. Typically though, you get two out of three you’re doing well.

Of more interest to me personally is if a particular critic is going to “get it.” What the show is trying to say and what we were trying to do with it.

Case in point: I felt like Mark Leib “got” Embedded, every last bit of, in ways I didn’t even expect from anyone. Things that had been subtly on our radar from the beginning. After reading the review I felt that just about everything we were attempting to accomplish in the show was there, illuminated. Good praise or bad, when someone gets it – even if they don’t like it – you feel good about it. Like you did your job.

Marty Clear of the Times however didn’t appear to get what we were trying to do with the show. No knock (we all like Marty a lot, actually), he simply didn’t seem to get it. Or maybe he got it and was just unmoved by it. Personally, I’d rather believe he didn’t get it than he’s possibly that jaded about recent history.

But now the shoes and feet are totally reversed. After reading the CreLo review, despite how much Mark obviously thought very highly of the actual production, he found a lot of fault in the script. What it had to say and how it had to say it. That’s certainly his prerogative.

Then, not even half a day later, I see Marty’s review and immediately thought – “See, he got it.” If you look at the quote above from the Times, it really nails on the head my thoughts about the play, and why I think Mark’s assessment is off the mark.

I love the gray area in this show, I find the ambiguity compelling and haunting. It surely doesn’t sit on you easily nor is it anything you should be comfortable with, but in the end – as many Jobsite folks have now said resoundingly – this play has provoked more thought and conversation than anything in recent memory.

So, two more weeks and we could use a lot of love. Don’t miss this show, ladies and gentlemen.

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