A reader writes:
I saw your review of A Man for All Seasons before going and noticed your warning about bringing any children to the play. I assumed that meant young teens as well. But I wanted two of my boys (twelve and fifteen) to see a play and not waste time or money on some Broadway fluff that wouldn’t appeal to them anyway. So I showed them the movie first, a favorite of mine, to acquaint them with the dialogue and meaning of the play beforehand. Last night we saw the performance and they enjoyed it. (Or as much as two boys of that age can.) It was the preparation that sealed the deal. If the play were long running, I would have suggested it to many more friends with kids that age.
Of course these kids are home-schooled, so maybe that made a difference in their attention spans. Who knows? But surely we should be encouraging parents to take the young to more than only the shows like Mamma Mia or Mary Poppins.
Indeed we should, which is why I found this e-mail so valuable. I described A Man for All Seasons (which closed last weekend) as “too intellectually demanding for children of any age” in my weekly theater roundup. Obviously I was wrong to use such unequivocally categorical language! To be sure, I don’t usually have teenagers in mind when I use the word “children” in the weekly roundup. It’d never have occurred to me to take my eleven-year-old nephew to see A Man for All Seasons, but I’m pretty sure that I would have enjoyed seeing it when I was fifteen. (I wish I’d seen the movie back then.)
That said, it’s my job to be as clear as possible when “rating” the plays that I review, so I’ll keep this exchange in mind from now on.