February 7, 2007


I am indebted to Roger Hall for sending this on from Stephen Whitehouse, wherein some wit from the Guardian (of Monday January 29, 2007) offers alternative interpretations of critics’ clichés.  I, of course, cannot possibly comment … – JS

What do the words ‘it had me on the edge of my seat’ really mean? Or ‘cruelly underrated’? Or ‘comic genius’? Find out in our special guide to critic-speak …


Genuinely popular  Coach parties only

The play reaches a shattering climax  The rest of it’s like watching a tap drip

The supporting players shine  The leads were planks

A commanding performance  This actor had a very loud voice

A subtle portrayal  This actor was practically inaudible

Kill for a ticket  Because 30 years in prison would be a better use of your time

Spare, economical designs  Looks like it cost about a tenner

Epic  I thought it would never end

Mature  Way too old to be playing a sex god

Muscular  Written by a man

This play is young and raw  This play is written by someone whose sole experience of drama is watching EastEnders

Desperately moving  Made me think about my own sad little life

Cutting-edge  I hated it, but don’t want to sound like a fuddy-duddy

Crepuscular lighting  I couldn’t see a thing

A welcoming venue  The ladies’ loo actually flushes

Dense, intelligent and deeply witty  Laugh knowingly even if you don’t understand a word

A devised play  A total mess

Domestic drama  Doesn’t mention Iraq or the state of the NHS

Concise  Too short

Dreamlike  I fell asleep

Had me on the edge of my seat  So eager was I to vacate it

Seasoned and mature  Oh God – not him again

Exuberantly physical  Why can’t they learn how to talk?

Rigorously textual  Why can’t they learn how to move?

Avoids fashionable gestures  Completely out of touch

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