Recovery is coming in 2021. Will critics be able to restrain themselves? Or will we just fawn all over everybody?
As I casually leafed through the Bloomberg, boning up on airline regulators’ concerns over pilots ill-prepared to resume flying, I had a nagging feeling; what if my critiquing skills are totally shot, now? What happens if Chicago performers return triumphantly to the stage, but I am unable to levy fair criticism, or use MLA formatting? What if I submit a review that is rife with spelling errors, and they all make it to print?
Even if a critic were to hone their craft over months of quarantine, generating review after unread review of, I don’t know, their third re-watch of “Tiger King,” are they truly prepared? Would they be able to divorce themselves from their unchecked enthusiasm just to have Joe Exotic crooning at them about the glory of tigers and Carole Baskin’s missing husband? It will take practice and patience for critics to exercise required nonchalance.
My renewed appreciation of the life and health of the artists who will be the first to take their bows is what haunts me the most. I will probably break into sobs, excitable squeals, and will definitely give an “Ooooooh” and giggle at the first stage kiss I see. I am coming to terms with the fact that I will rave and gush. I will hand out stars and single-word quote lines like “Breathtaking!” or “Astounding!” to folks who may be rusty at best. I may give you the most favorable review of your career, and for this, I must ask that you bear with me and my half-baked assessments. We’re all doing the best we can with our meager tools.