Once and for all, it's just a matter of opinion

This article is from 2008

Steve Cramer's festival blog

I don’t know, perhaps it’s me. There’s always one show of every festival where a critic appears to be out of kilter with his peers. For me, this festival the show would appear to be Once and For All We’re Gonna Tell You Who We Are, So Shut Up and Listen at the Trav. My two star review appears to stack up as pretty parsimonious next to four from The Scotsman and (gasp) five from The Guardian . I’m never so arrogant as to suggest that I’m right and everyone else is wrong, yet I still can’t see what all the hullabaloo is about.

Have I got it in for winsome teenagers? Certainly it would appear so in this case, where my motto is “You’re winsome, you lose some”. In mitigation, I seem to have seen a few too many plays featuring cute adolescents and their problems, from the epics by another Belgian company, Victoria, to DC Jackson‘s The Wall – it‘s not that this stuff isn‘t good at times, it‘s just that there seems to have been an awful lot of it over the last couple of years. Perhaps I’m suffering from Post Traumatic “Bless” Disorder. Besides, what are these Belgians up to, constantly making off with other people’s children? At this point I’d urge you not to be so lazy, and furnish your own joke…

Meanwhile, the mighty art of ligging has been brought to new levels of sophistication by my chum and former colleague Dr Lee Spinks. Yea verily, he is a Ligger With Attitude. Ritually, every year since God was an infant, Spinksy has been my boon companion, blagging the odd plus one to parties and shows through the festival. And he does so with admirable confidence, as demonstrated the other night at the Traverse, where he held forth to a group of young theatre workers who joined us about the various strengths and weaknesses of their shows. Eager minds were changed, and careful notes were taken by his enraptured audience, before he departed to the loo. One youngster turned to me, and in quiet awe asked, “Is he a producer, and artistic director, a critic …?” I hadn’t the heart to tell them that he taught English Literature at Edinburgh University.


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