Image via WikipediaReading a review of a play in the NY Times this morning, I had an idea so amusing, so filled with promise of future pleasure, I really do have to write it down before it sinks into the boneyard of all those other little spritzes of inspiration that I thought I could not possibly forget, so wonderful were they.
Because, so often, I would forget. I would wake up remembering the fact of being inspired, but there was no meat on the bones, just a memory of the moment but not the stuff itself.
Anyway, as I read the review my thoughts ran on two tracks: admiration for the work behind the play being reviewed -- the patience; the suffering; the multiple rewrites -- and for the review itself, which was giving me such pleasure, second-hand but useful in all kinds of ways, including now having one little bit more of cocktail chatter.
And the idea came to me. Why not write reviews of my own towering works of genius? I don't mean of my actual towering works of genius, but the ones I will write or might write or could write or at least can think about writing. Two for one! Efficiency squared!!
So, yeah, I am going to be doing that from now on when I have the time and if I think of it and if someone reminds me. They don't have to be long reviews, after all. Some can be those little follow-up thumbnails you see when the book comes out in paperback or the DVD of the movies arrives or the community playhouse licenses the Broadway hit from seasons past.
Encumbering a one-man autobiographical play performed by its author with the thumb-in-the-eye title of "F*&% You, I'm a Genius" is the sort of provocation that begs for a reviewer's most crisp rebuttal:
No, you're not.
But it's a mark of local teacher/scholar/playwright J. Michael Robertson's talent that this reviewer came to scoff and stayed to cheer.
It's a critical chestnut: Show, don't tell. The facts are the argument -- when they are undeniable. And when it comes to charming the skeptic, that's what Robertson did last night in a three-hour monologue describing the initial resistance to his reintroduction of iambic pentameter to the Broadway stage and, quickly thereafter, to Hollywood itself, by letting his fists do the talking.
From his first "F*&% you" to his final "and if you don't like it, you can kiss my a**," he commanded his audience, even though the performance was done in total darkness, Robertson's only instrument his thrilling baritone.
Is this what it was like to be alive at the dawn of Shakespeare?