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BACH TO BARBRA (article first published : 2004-10-29)

Dear Artsmart

I read with interest the letter posted on your website from the producer and co-presenter of the Catalinaís Bach to Barbara. And in spite of not wanting to enter into a slinging match I feel somewhat compelled to respond in the light of the accusations launched at my colleague and fellow theatre reviewer Billy Suter.

I will restrain myself from re-reviewing the show, which I elected not to do given that fact that it succeeded only in cramming every imaginable theatrical failing into one small show. In retrospect I am glad I didnít review it, not because it spared the production another scathing score, but because it seems I was spared Almondís hissing.

While Suterís review may have seemed overly critical, I believe his standing as a critic should not be the issue in question. His commentary was a response to the show in its entirety, which I might add, is the primary reason he, Sally Scott and I were invited to this performance. If Suter maligned Almondís ability to find a note and keep it then I would be mildly sympathetic to her cause. But he echoed the sentiments of all those, myself included, who chose to flee this horrible show during the interval.

But that aside, if Almond lacks the ability to take the criticism then sheís in the wrong industry.

One of the most essential emotional tools anyone who places themselves in the public eye (and ultimately line of fire) need to possess is the capability to take the good, the bad and the ugly in their stride Ė itís part and parcel of a path they consciously chose to follow.

Should Suter have said nothing? Should he have lied?

Almond needs to understand that with regard to Bach to Barbara, her reality and that of the audience on press night (save her three friends who applauded) is considerably different.

In my qualified opinion as a drama honours degree graduate, Almondís diatribe would have had a modicum of credibility if the show was a smash hit. Unfortunately, itís more of a train smash. And Almond is very, very bad at what she does. She needs to accept that and move on. She may have been a child wonder at 14 but right now she sounds desperate for validation.

And the ironic thing is that this show does nothing to give her that validation she so desperately seeks.

Terence Pillay (Journalist)




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