I'm not a writer by profession or training but I do like to share my opinions with other entertainment seekers and fans. This review is for the current production of "Tribes" at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles. Ok, so I didn't hate this production but the praise for this work puzzles me. I came away feeling as if I had spent two hours being hit over the head by the obvious stick. There is no subtlety here. Yes there are a couple of occasional "big" words and sound design tricks tossed in that try to make the overall story seem smarter than it actually is, but it's more a reminder of how dumb the author thinks the audience is than how intelligent the characters and production designers are. The morals and the lessons behind the story are important ones. But, personally, I would rather be given the tools and ideas of those morals and lessons so that I may figure them out on my own rather than be told exactly how to feel and think about them. The way the audience is treated is exactly how the author is asking you NOT to feel about her characters. Several reviewers have complained that they could not hear much of the dialogue and attributed it to poor theater acoustics. I have a suspicion it was more of another, less subtle, attempt to make us sympathize with the deaf characters. After all, many lines of dialogue are spoken by characters who have their back to the audience. To me this came off as lazy rather than clever and annoying rather than enlightening. There are some fine performances and some entertainment value to be had, just not enough. If you enjoy having your peas and carrots spoon fed to you, then grab your Chinette and get in line. However, if you prefer to savor the complexities of a gourmet meal, make your reservation elsewhere. This play Is more Sesame Street than Mulholland Drive. More Hallmark Channel than Sundance. And better suited for the Pantages Theater crowd than the Mark Taper theater patron. Don't get me wrong, I am all for exposing the joys of the theater-going experience to more people. Just don't do it at the expense of those who have been there all along. As for the Taper and the music center itself, I have always been a fan.
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