I am not normally the biggest Michael Feingold fan. I think many of his reviews can be summed up by the sentence Things were better in my day!. But every now and then he writes something so perceptive, so fair-minded and interesting that it really must be read.
Now, I haven't seen Craig Lucas' Prayer For My Enemy, but Feingold's write-up is a case study in how to pen a perceptive, critical, unpositive (I wouldn't call it "negative" in this case) review while respecting the playwright behind the play.
Check it out here. One of the things that makes this possible, of course, is that Feingold has a long history of reading and seeing Lucas' work. The question is how to get this same respect for lesser known playwrights whom critics might not be so familiar with. How do you give someone the benefit of the doubt when you're not sure they deserve it?