To the editors:
I just got home from the Chicago Shakespeare Company’s production of The Winter’s Tale, which I probably wouldn’t have seen after reading Tom Boeker’s review [October 30] had I not already had tickets. Actually, I usually read reviews fairly skimmingly (as I believe most of us do) just to get the basic gist of the reviewer’s opinion, and in this case, resigned myself to looking forward to an evening of “flat, fossilized” Shakespeare. And it’s kind of too bad that we read these things so carelessly. When I re-read Boeker’s blurb a few minutes ago, more carefully this time, it was very clear (even, I think, had I not seen the play) that he gives the reader every reason to mistrust his opinion. The points he tries to make are often quite fuzzy–under the guise of being hey, chilled out, Play-Doh factory, physic or whatever, coffeehouse conversational. I don’t want to go into it.
It’s true, I was told by a cast member, that the show was stronger tonight than when Boeker saw it, but I’ll bet it was still available, clear, vulnerable, lyrical, etc. Certainly the show has faults but I think it’s an awful disservice to so carelessly ignore the giftlike energy this cast gives. But of course one wouldn’t notice this if he’s too busy imagining Uzis and thumbing through the ads in Soldier of Fortune magazine (very strange/scary choice of imagery in writing about this production).
Finally, Boeker gives ample evidence that not only does he not know how to watch Shakespeare (it takes audience participation), but he’s something of a Shakespeare hater. And I suggest not sending Shakespeare haters to review Shakespeare.