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Great Critics (Sometimes) Think Alike

Back in July, CultureGrrl complained about the unwelcoming character of Jean Nouvel‘s new facility for the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis:
Instead of feeling the anticipatory glow of a joyous night at the theater, you prowl the dark lobbies and corridors (with slit-like or oddly tinted windows interfering with your view) feeling like you’ve been conscripted as an extra in a film noir (emphasis on noir). Adding to this impression are the ghostly, barely perceptible images of past Guthrie performances, imprinted on the surrounding walls.
When I wrote that dark critique, the theater had not yet opened to the public, and I noted that “an appraisal of the three performing spaces themselves will have to await the drama critics.”
Last Friday, my blogging colleague, Terry Teachout, weighed in with his WSJ review of a production at the Guthrie. He liked the play, but panned the building:
I’m not an architecture critic, but I do spend a lot of time in theater lobbies, and this one didn’t do a thing for me: The low-ceilinged public areas are dark, oppressive and laid out with irksome illogic. Rarely can there have been a theater whose interior was less well suited to the purpose of making its occupants feel festive and expectant. The process of getting from the street to the Wurtele Thrust Stage, the largest of the three performance spaces, is so protracted — not to mention confusing — that I briefly had trouble focusing on the revival of Neil Simon‘s “Lost in Yonkers” that had lured me to town.
Unfortunately, he didn’t comment on how he regarded the performance space itself, once he had finally groped his way from the lobby to his seat. That’s what I was most interested in hearing from a theater buff who, unlike CultureGrrl, had the opportunity to see the Guthrie in action.
So, here’s a shoutout to the blogging Teachout: Do tell about the Wurtele!

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