It appears that Mr. Isherwood will no longer be reviewing the work of playwright Mr. Adam Rapp. You can read the news here: http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/theater-talkback-for-one-critic-its-a-rapp/ . Despite the relief some of us may feel for Mr. Isherwood, I wonder that he made the right choice? Here’s my response (which corrects some mis-placed parenthetical shenanigans).
While I’m sure that you’re relieved by your choice, Mr. Isherwood (and I am relieved on your behalf as you no longer need to sit or sleep through the work of a playwright who is clearly wrong far too often), I wonder that you should give up so easily. Our theater is at the vanguard of a struggle for proper culture. It is important that art be made to bend to the critical consensus, not vice versa! It may be true that most criticism is merely a form of infotainment–it gives us pleasure to see something eviscerated. But how much more pleasure when something truly deserving of evisceration (such as a work of theater or an unruly playwright’s career) is eviscerated with carefree style! I may not agree with you .1% of the time (usually when you enjoy something, but I know that sometimes the witchcraft of a spectacle–and sometimes [rarely] of language–can be overpowering), but I continue to have faith in your poison pen. Of the Grey Lady’s Critics, you are certainly the Greytest! (If you do open a yogurt shop, though, I’ll have you know my wife and I are big fans of cultured dairy products and would frequent your enterprise, well, frequently. Hint: I enjoy plain yogurt.)
(I regret suggesting that it was a wrong idea for Mr. Isherwood to review Mr. Rapp’s plays–see below. I hope it’s clear that my concern is principally for the preservation of Mr. Isherwood’s critical palate.)
What do you think? I hope you agree with me!