ATTACKING THE ACTRESS FOR THE FLAWS OF THE CHARACTER. We saw “It’s Only a Play” in previews in New York a couple weeks ago. It’s a very funny play about people associated with a play waiting anxiously for the reviews on opening night. Many of the jokes are about how theater critics write savage personal attacks on actors. The reviews when they arrive are indeed harsh and personal.

I was waiting for the reviews of this production. The Guardian review included a harsh attack on Stockard Channing, who played Virginia Noyes, an actress who is struggling with age and drugs: “Channing has terrific instincts, but plastic surgery and/or make-up applied with a trowel limit her expressiveness.”

The reviewer missed the irony of her review. Stockard Channing was playing a character (Virginia Noyes) who would have had plastic surgery and unsuccessful make-up. The irony was a harsh and personal review that was like the reviews mocked in the play she was reviewing.

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