To the editors:
My amusement and alarm at the outraged fluttering of feathers over Tom Boeker and his theater reviews, as chronicled in 3 and 24 February Readers, prompt me to offer a few observations on the spectacle of the Critic Criticiz'd.
Nothing is more galling to theater folk than unfavorable reviews. After all, being loved and told how wonderful we are is the reason I and most actors I know went into theater. The ideal, sensitive reviewer recognizes this and takes it into account when judging a performance.
Tom Boeker is about as sensitive as a chain saw. No argument from this quarter. In this respect, certainly, he is far from the ideal. If, in addition, he were merely some real estate agent wrapp'd in a reviewer's hide, if he were stupid or cared nothing about theater, I could understand his revilement at the hands of the Anonymous Directorate. Indeed, I would be baying for his blood myself. The only troublesome fact is, he is none of these things. He is very well informed about theater, has painfully high standards, and is nobody's fool. And that, quite frankly, is why this anti-Boeker campaign scares me. The implication is that this sort of critic--hell, this sort of audience member--is not what the Chicago Theater Jihad considers to be a true believer, and that anyone who has the temerity to say what he says the way that he says it should be sent to hell.
I'm not denying that Boeker's language is excessive, and occasionally downright offensive. However, I vehemently disagree that this renders him unfit for his office. I have myself suffered through too many evenings of bad-to-indifferent performances in Chicago, the theatrical Mecca of the Midwest, to blame him for his railings. If he says a show is bad, I believe him. Although his language is extravagant, his judgement is sound, and his "bilious attitude" is its violent and predictable reaction to a steady diet of the shoddy, the shambling, the pretentious, the boring and the fourth-rate. I for one thank him for not pretending that shit doesn't stink.
I will close by saying that I hope the Anonymous crowd, if it decides to go ahead with its "get Boeker" vendetta, will publish the names of any and all theaters and production companies involved. If you have something to fear from this man, chances are your shows are going to be a waste of my time and money, and I would just as soon be forewarned.
Finally, a message to the author of the "Satanic Reviews": Do not go into hiding! Do not be dismayed by the threats of the Chicago Theater Jihad! And above all--do not recant!