Cricket's Notebook by Larry Stark: Bill Marx

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide



entire contents copyright 1997 by Larry Stark

Sunday, 8 June, '97

Just so you all know...

On Sunday night, 8 June, I sent this letter to the GLOBE:


Isn't it about time you stopped tormenting Bill Marx?

This is a serious, sensitive man who obviously loves theater to death. Why do your editors persist in sending him out to endure endless painful hours watching plays he knows before even leaving home are impossible abominations?

Again and again this year I have watched him suffer the agonies only the insightful know, only to tear from the theatre through gullible hoards of misguided cheering people on their feet and applauding trash. I knew he was rushing to a keyboard to protect all his loyal readers from throwing good money after bad theater.

But a righteous Jeremiah may raise his lonely cry in a deluded wilderness only so long before that voice begins to crack. It is obvious from the tone of his reviews that the time spent verifying what he knew from the start has been poisoning his positive disposition. When he wrote in Thursday's paper that the "shoddy musical goods" and "hooey" of "prehistoric" THE MUSIC MAN had "snatched" a Best Musical Tony from "tame" WEST SIDE STORY I realized that Marx once again had been compelled to waste time corroborating the obvious. Of what value could "generally clean staging" or "merry-go-round grace" or "superbly detailed costumes" that made "This MUSIC MAN look snappy" after Marx had so dogmatically damned any performance as a tragic lost cause?

Can't your editors relax their strait-laced journalistic conventions in this exceptional case? Would it not be much more economical of his precious time if producers or directors merely sent Marx the titles and potential cast-lists of shows they intended to produce? That way he may write his reviews condemning the awful choice of play, and even outlining the pathetic attempts that they might have tried to gild the sow's ear, before the offending horrors even go into rehearsal. Eventually he might even begin to announce in his columns that "Once again a misguided producer has, because of my opinions, thought better of producing [ almost any play you can think of ] and closed the show without even an opening-night. This is what you might have had to endure had they persisted in their blind folly:...." Imagine how many people could be protected from pretending to enjoy what Marx knows they cannot with such a system!

But I beg you, do something soon. Great minds cannot long endure obvious indignities without cracking, and Marx' justified disgust with so much of what he is forced to see is edging toward hysteria. More and more he sounds like a rabid rotweiler looking for another person to bite. He's even beginning to look like one --- though the foam rimming his sneerful smirk is black. And the kindest thing you can do for a rabid rotweiler is to put him out of his misery.

At the very least, keep him chained up in the book department, before the poor man hurts someone.

(a k a larry stark, from THE THEATER MIRROR: )

117B Thorndike Street
Brookline MA 02146

Important question: How do you spell "rotweiler"?

THE THEATER MIRROR, Boston's LIVE Theater Guide