DO CRITICS KNOW BETTER THAN PLAYWRIGHTS? It’s tempting to make the argument that Tony Kushner and Shakespeare know what they’re doing more than critics do. Kushner seems to like “lengthy digressions and superfluous subplots.” Shakespeare’s subplots seem always to be important; in Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare chose to make the Beatrice/Benedick story a subplot. Yet critics can help playwrights, and the out-of-town tryouts for Broadway plays back in the day permitted comments by critics that previews do not. Neil Simon gave credit to the Boston critic Elliot Norton’s advice for fixing the third act of The Odd Couple. Norton’s suggestion: Bring back the Pigeon sisters. Simon says here: “Brought back the Pigeon sisters, and the play worked.”

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