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August 12, 2004

Some really, really bad writing for us all

An actress who is currently in a leading role at the theatre where I work - a very sweet and talented lady, in fact - brought to my attention something that brings me boundless joy and unbridled mirth. I hope it can do the same for at least one other person.

This actress, named Julie, was in a production at UC Davis some years ago, and one particular review was SO badly written, that it made national news. The New Yorker re-printed it in their "Rich, Beautiful Prose" section. What makes this story even more nutty is that family members of hers - in England, no less - heard this ridiculous review. A review that just so happened to be about their niece, who was starring in a show in a tiny, Northern California city.

(you might even want to read it aloud)

[From Capitol Currents, a newsletter published in Sacramento, Calif., republished in the New Yorker]

"The Beaux' Stratagem is a less than famous tale to the American audience written by George Farquhar that is being performed by the University of California, Davis under the European director Frank Hauser. Although The Beaux' Stratagem is relatively a new story to the student audience, the major actress manages to breath air into the play, Julie Eccles who plays Mrs. Sullen, Lady Bountiful's daughter-in-law is powerful. She single handedly carries and makes the night. But how does she accomplish this task? One must look at the play for the answer. The scene is an old rural town several kilometers from London in 1707 in which this play takes place. The major character begins her powerful roaring. For she has come upon the stage. She is a swan of beauty and grace which sails through the portals of the mind into greater sunsets. She is an eagle that soars through the sky to another atmosphere. In short, she carries the play with her wonderful, classical, energetic, smooth performance. Miss Eccles' mouth is a grand canyon of excellent speech. The voice is full of fire, pain, pleasure and love; yet natural. Her voice is full of raw emotion which is born within a person. It is not taught. Moreover, her voice is a shark which swims from its mother's belly into the blue ocean. It is the bird which is tossed from the nest, and it flies. The play flew because of the skills of Julie Eccles, and the fact that she is glorious does not hurt!"

I mean, it's almost too much to be believed. I love it.

Posted by kati at August 12, 2004 06:06 PM


That's beautiful. I especially love, "Moreover, her voice is a shark which swims from its mother's belly into the blue ocean," because despite its explanatory tone it clarifies precisely nothing. Unless maybe her voice really is a shark, in which case I would have thought that would be the first thing the reviewer would comment on ("Aaaaah! Jesus Christ, there's a shark in this play! Aaaaaaah!" and so on).

Posted by: Dianna at August 12, 2004 06:22 PM

This review soared like an eagle into greater sunsets. Even though it's complimentary of the performance, this gives new meaning to getting a nad review. Thank you, Nurse V.

Posted by: sean at August 12, 2004 06:40 PM

Oh my god. Oh my god.

A WHAT review?

Posted by: Dianna at August 12, 2004 06:58 PM


P.S. I miss you, Kati!

Posted by: robyn at August 12, 2004 11:23 PM

"Miss Eccles's mouth is a grand canyon of excellent speech."

The viewer has violated all the rules of metaphor and should be dragging into the street and shot.

Or at least, we should break all the reviewer's pencils!

Posted by: Cody at August 13, 2004 11:09 AM

"the main character begins her powerful roaring" sounds like a bad translation of a line of japanese poetry. and it is the line i will use from now on when a girlfriend gets snippy with me.

Posted by: didofoot at August 13, 2004 12:00 PM

Nice Kati, nice.
However poorly written this review is,
I would love to act so well that people in the audience would actually get stupid.

I'd be so good, I would act the stupid out of them.

Posted by: Mike at August 14, 2004 11:01 AM

Amazing. "Grand canyon mouth" definitely my favorite part.
So, the New Yorker has a whole section for this kind of stuff?

Posted by: jason s at August 18, 2004 07:02 PM

I like how between a "nad review" and "should be dragging into the street and shot" there are apparently two embarrassing typos in this thread about mocking bad writing.

Posted by: Kenny at August 19, 2004 10:44 AM

No, I actually meant that the review made my balls tingle. Tingle like a lightning bolt that is tossed by the arm of Zeus onto a sentence running on and on like a grammtical Phaeton, scorching and devastating all in its heedless, godless path.

Posted by: sean at August 19, 2004 02:17 PM


Posted by: gene at August 19, 2004 05:01 PM