Aim high, fail heroically

I was reading the theatre reviews and came across the Guardian’s Michael Billington on the new Alan Ayckbourn. It’s obvious from the review that Billington is less than enthused by the play, but because it’s Ayckbourn – indisputably one of the top half-dozen living playwrights in English – he gives it a free pass. This prompts one of the posters below-the-line to write:

I would love it if on occasion Michael B decided to really cut loose. Clearly, this show is a spectacular misfire which bored him to tears. So come on! Give it a kicking instead of going round the houses.

To which Billingtom responds magisterially:

[I]t is no crime to aim high and miss the target. I reserve my dislike for shows that aim low and miss.

Too many critics find fault in the work of writers or artists whose boots none of us are fit to lick. This is especially the case in round-table critics’ TV and radio. Well, here’s Billington, gently reminding us that, even on a bad day, genius is genius, and we should count ourselves bloody lucky people like Ayckbourn walk among us.


The review is at

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