An older priest, one trained during the heyday of liturgical abuses in the '60s-'70s, said in his homily at the noon mass that lay readers have to avoid “theatrics” in the readings. For years I was mystified by the dull, flat, expressionless tone the majority of readers assume, which is one of the things that leaves the faithful feeling that mass is dull or meaningless. It turns out that this absence of inflection or intensity was in fact the way that post-V2 priests and liturgists understood the instruction to read simply without theatrics to mean. Further – and it was clear he was quoting from his own training – he said that in order to have the faithful speaking “with one voice” during the liturgy, we had to take care not to be louder or softer than our neighbors, so we should be listening to them so we would sound exactly like them.
This disastrous misunderstanding of the very goal of vernacular in the liturgy is what turns so many people off at mass; they hear dull reading, and the readings appear to have no life or meaning at all. They hear the people around them all striving for monotone, and they assume everyone is bored.
Authentic liturgical expression, though, among the congregation would have everyone responding from the place where they are meeting Christ. If moved with fervor, then fervently; it with sorrow, then with quiet sorrow and hope; if with deep joy, then with joyful warmth. There should always be reverence, but the sort of technical manipulation of congregational responses that this particular generation of pastor was schooled in is so typical of that whole terrible socio-technocratic generation, in which the pastors were not pastors at all, but tinkerers whose job it was to create a uniformity and monotony as if that were what Our Lord meant by union and unity.