To the editors:
Tom Boeker is to a theatre critic what a bug zapper is to an entomologist. He casts a dim, odd light, makes sporadic and energetic but destructive noises and adds nothing to our knowledge of the species. His recent review of "Tiny Tot Mystic" at Sarantos Studios is a case in point [August 4].
Apparently, he attended a third rate stenography school some time between his "conducting a seminar on a Sioux reservation" and "pissing in the baby pool." He is able to retell the story line of a play. But he has the annoying habit of the loud mouth who gets first tickets to the latest "who done it" then spills the plot and names the culprit. Do you editors give him a quiz to make sure he showed at the theatre?
His narration of what he experienced is a different matter. It has all the "bring it back alive" flavor of abridged Cliff Notes. It is also apparent that he saw a show, a different show, than the rest of the audience. On the other hand, maybe he checked his ability to laugh, hurt, empathize and understand at the door. He saw, we felt.
As for his reflective faculty--in his own words: "Then I applied what I'd learned to my own life. And I still had nine minutes and 50 seconds on my hands." Perhaps it was at this time he remembered "discussing a short story by Chekhov . . . a woman was proposing an interpretation . . . she was articulate and made a sound argument. When she finished, the man . . . leading the discussion . . . said, 'So what?' . . . None of us could respond."
Tom must have taken basket weaving to fulfill his humanities requirements, since he purported to conduct that seminar. In any case, he never got unstuck from the dilemma of what someone's art means to him or could mean to someone else.
Thank goodness for writers like Lori O'Connell who keep asking questions including those that don't have 10 second answers. And thanks, too, for performances that make one feel urgency and even joy in asking difficult questions about topics "from anomie to God's silence" through her characters and for oneself. She renews a discussion that will continue for many.
You should give Tom a library card rather than a theatre ticket. He seemingly doesn't respond to live art. If you can't keep this dictaphone in Reebok's at the office at least send him with a real person. It apparently takes more than one Reader dim bulb to shed a little light. Better yet, send his therapist or the "bear of a man with two long pigtails." Perhaps his medicine man can tell him that "So what?" is an important question. One, to the discussion of which, he still hasn't contributed and one that so intimidates him that he uses his office to discourage others from enjoining.
A member of the audience,