Many reasons to visit Time Out Chicago this week. The first is Kris Vire's review of Cabaret, which is remarkably similar to mine--great minds clearly think alike. The show has gotten a surprisingly mixed response (disappointingly including the Tribune), but it's good to have the validation that someone who's reviewed and seen way more plays than I have basically shares my opinion.
But even more awesome is Caitlin Montanye Parrish's review of Chicago Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. This version famously has a framing device written by well known contemporary scribe Neil LaBute, a playwright whose misogyny and misanthropy know few bounds, and whose movie career includes such classics as The Wicker Man. The response to the new material has been generally mixed to negative, but for some reason LaBute (or someone claiming to be him), went on the warpath against Parrish. The initial comment was this:
"and the crazy thing is, ms. parrish, they PAID me to do it! i got to spew all that 'predictable bile' and they wrote me a check for the privilege. probably lots more than you got paid for your review. that hardly seems fair and yet there it is. the way of the world. you spew your bile, i spew mine, and may the best man (or whatever) win. "fuck this!" may not be a thesis or a revelation, but it's exactly what i was thinking when i read your sorry excuse for theatrical criticism."
And we were off to the races, with "LaBute" (we still have no proof whether it is really him) tossing nasty ad hominem attacks at Parrish (suggesting she see the show again and stop paying attention to the codpieces) and critics in general ("critics are the one element that is of little or no use to the creative process (and one of the very few who don't ever pay for a ticket!) even the audience lends some creative element to the experience of theater--the critic will always be reactive and parasitic. i didn't make it that way, it's just the way it goes.") and generally flinging vitriolic and nonsensical attacks at everyone. (Granted, people eventually started baiting him, because it was just so damn funny.)
Then this hilarious blog post was published by Eric Roach and Anderson Lawfer, and now LaBute has started attacking them as well ("Have fun being stuck in Chicago forever you talentless fucks," said he). So the joy will doubtless continue.
My main purpose here was to alert you all to the hilarity and assholery, but here are a few of my thoughts on this, for free.
1) Nice review, Caitlin. Clear, intelligent, made a persuasive case, fun to read.
2) Neil, do you really have nothing better to do? Really? If you got the "gigantic check" you said you did, why are you bothering yourself with this particular review? (And why didn't you attack the negative review in, say, the Tribune?) Why not just laugh all the way to the bank?
3) Are all critics parasites? Really? Even the ones who creamed their jeans over your early plays, and the ones who still do? Or just the ones who speak ill of your shows?
4) To end on a positive note: thank you for The Wicker Man. It is one of the most intensely entertaining movies I have ever seen. Granted, that is because it is howlingly misogynistic, ludicrously plotted, completely devoid of scares, and features Nicolas Cage at his looniest, but entertaining is entertaining.
Anyone else have a thought or two on this?
Stoking the Fires
5 weeks ago