Having recently chided a local reviewer, I think it’s appropriate to give some props to another local critic who does a damn fine job: Bob Mondello, who reviews for NPR’s All Things Considered and the Washington City Paper. Consider his recent write-up of two shows that I also viewed, 33 Variations and The Unmentionables.
Compared to my sketches, Mondello sees in sharper, more vivid colors; he chooses his words more precisely (prig, amanuensis, decency) without losing a conversational tone. Writing for both radio and print, he knows how to put a button on the end of a piece. He is one of the writers that I have to avoid reading before I see a show in hopes that I will appreciate a work and express myself without undue influence.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that he and I agree on the merits of a lot of shows—these two, for instance. Granted, he has his formulas, but he makes them work (“Original? Well, not entirely.”) for him. His compact yet avuncular style works just as well on the air as on the page.