Dear Urban Diplomat: Do you need to give a standing ovation in Toronto even when one isn’t deserved?

Dear Urban Diplomat: Do you need to give a standing ovation in Toronto even when one isn’t deserved?

(Image: Alfred Cunningham)
 

Dear Urban Diplomat,
I just moved to Toronto from London, England, and I’ve noticed that nearly every theatre production here gets a standing ovation. I saw a supreme stinker at the Elgin last week and everyone leapt to their feet. I remained seated and got the evil eye from my new Toronto friends. Is it customary here to stand even if you don’t mean it?
—Pleased to be Seated, Cedarvale

It’s true, Toronto theatregoers often partake in collective overpraise. Perhaps we so badly want our thespians to succeed that we convince ourselves they have. Or maybe we’re especially prone to herd behaviour. Whatever the reason, my advice is to let the performance, not the patrons, guide you. If you stand for a so-so performance, how will you reward an exceptional one—by streaking around the theatre, praising the Lord for the gift of Megan Follows? Unless your mind is truly blown, stay seated. If a neighbour gives you attitude, seize the opportunity to debate the merits of the play. Art appreciation is as much about argument as it is about, well, appreciation.

Send your questions to the Urban Diplomat at urbandiplomat@torontolife.com