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1. The Da Da Kamera production of Daniel MacIvor's lovely play A Beautiful View is being remounted right now at Tarragon Theatre right in Toronto. I saw it at Buddies three years ago and later ranked it as one of my top 20 "artastic" people/places/things of 2006. (Ah, back then on my lazy personal blog, I could make up words like "artastic" with impunity.) I remember being shocked by A Beautiful View's surprise ending and debating it furiously with a friend after.  (Ridiculous or amazing?) And I remember loving the low-key/offbeat performances from Tracy Wright and Caroline Gillis. We're not re-reviewing, but I recommend it. 2. Volcano's Ross Manson emailed me yesterday with a link to a positive Philadelphia Inquirer review of Appetite, the dance-theatre show that you'll recall received a one-star review in The Globe and Mail from my colleague Paula Citron. What hit me when I read it was: What Manson and company should really be getting worked up about isn't a single bad review, but that they had to wait until Appetite toured to Philadelphia to get a second opinion from a critic at a daily newspaper. The Toronto Star, the Toronto Sun and the National Post all skipped it. I can safely say that Paula Citron's pan sent more people to see Appetite - and got more people talking about it - than those silences did... When you look at what's happening in other cities like Vancouver, where critics are dropping left, right and centre, I think it's reduced arts coverage, not arts coverage that people should be writing letters about. (And Manson does, I should note!) Anyway, what's the MacIvor link? Manson's email reminded me that I've been meaning to link to MacIvor's thoughts about the one-star review on his blog: [T]ere is something positive in this kind of over-the-top negative reaction.  Having lived and worked in cities that lack any kind of real critical eye in the press ("Good work all round!")  it becomes a bit of a you-win-you-lose situation.  When all the reviews are good reviews they don't mean anything any more. 3. MacIvor's blog is always worth a read, but here's another great recent entry I feel is worth highlighting: In it, he describes watching his old friend Bryden MacDonald's new play, With Bated Breath, at the Centaur Theatre in Montreal. I hadn't realised that these two Canadian playwrights - who sit almost side by side on my bookcase - were both from Cape Breton and knew each other back in school.

Can anyone guess which two Canadian playwrights separate MacDonald and MacIvor on my shelves? (Ann-Marie MacDonald's to the left and Michael Lewis MacLennan's to the right.) I'll send my How Do You Solve a Problem Like Medea? T-shirt to whoever guesses right... Hint: One wrote a play featuring Buster Keaton and Samuel Beckett, the other wrote a play partially set in a Tim Horton's.

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