Two critical

Back-to-back satirical one-act plays, “The Critic” and “The Real Inspector Hound,” open at the Guthrie this weekend.

Sandra Struthers as Actress 1, John Catron as Actor, and Charity Jones as Actress 2 in The Critic, showing February 23-March 27, 2016 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Photo courtesy of Scott Suchman

Sandra Struthers as Actress 1, John Catron as Actor, and Charity Jones as Actress 2 in The Critic, showing February 23-March 27, 2016 on the McGuire Proscenium Stage at the Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis.

Danylo Loutchko

Critics in the theater world have a reputation for being ruthless. So it’s no surprise that for hundreds of years, artists have written plays making fun of them.
 
 
Michael Kahn, director of the Shakespeare Theatre Company, will direct back to back satirical one-acts “The Critic” and “The Real Inspector Hound”, which will open at the Guthrie Theater’s McGuire Proscenium Stage on Friday
 
 
“The Critic” and “The Real Inspector Hound” are both meta-comedies about theater. This production, which is a collaboration with the Guthrie Theater and the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C., just finished a six-week run in D.C.
 
 
“[They’re both] sendups of the world of theater, and no one’s really spared: the critics, the actors, the directors, the playwrights, the audience are all poked fun at,” John Catron said, a Twin Cities-based actor who performs in both pieces. 
 
 
The collaboration with the Shakespeare Theatre Company began as a result of former Guthrie artistic director Joe Dowling’s friendship with Kahn. 
 
 
“[Kahn] knows how to craft a scene and how to craft a joke really well,” Catron said. “Even if something isn’t working right now, he’ll keep working until it works. Sometimes you can argue with Michael Kahn, but in the end, once you try what’s he’s trying to get you to do, he’s usually right.”
 
 
While “The Real Inspector Hound” is a one-act and is played in its entirety, local playwright Jeffrey Hatcher condensed Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s 18th-century comedy “The Critic” from a full-length play into one act. 
 
 
The original version of “The Critic” contained many irrelevant jokes and bits about the current events and politicians in the late 1700s, and on top of that it ran over two hours long. 
 
 
“If you’re going to to read an 18th-century comedy, you’re going to read Sheridan because he was the best,” Hatcher said. “A lot of my work [on “The Critic”] was cutting things out and then trying to reinterpret things that were funny to an audience 200 years ago, and trying to turn that into something that would be funny or even funnier for an audience today.”
 
 
“The Critic” and “The Real Inspector Hound” are both comedic explorations of the relationship between those who watch and those who do. 
 
 
“Both plays have critics watching a play,” Hatcher said. “They’re both the only plays I can think of where you’re watching an audience watching a play and those members of that audience are becoming involved in the play that they’re watching. There’s a meta theater going on.”
 
 
“The Critic / The Real Inspector Hound”
 
 
Where Guthrie Theater, 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis
When FridayMarch 27
Cost $34–64