To the editors:

In his review [March 10] of Theater Oobleck’s production In Cheap Shoes, Jack Helbig was right about one point: In Cheap Shoes is not an ordinary detective spoof. But Helbig forgot to ask what the play then was, if it is not an ordinary detective spoof. In doing so, he gave a favorable, but shallow review of a play that merits deeper analysis.

Theater Oobleck has lampooned and decapitated such venerable institutions as the Catholic Church, Sam Shepard and the Amoco Building. Next to such icons, the detective story genre seems like a wimp. Theater Oobleck has never attacked wimps, and Robin Harutunian (the first female in the group to write a full- length play) remains true to that spirit by attacking one of the more formidable and sly institutions of them all: sexism.

In Cheap Shoes questions our assumptions about sexual relations: men’s image of the Ideal Woman, women who buy that image, perversion, jealousy, ownership. These assumptions are so deeply ingrained in our society that many of us take them for granted. Perhaps this is why Helbig missed the Big Point. (Like many of us, he may think that ideal women such as Mindy actually exist.)

Throughout the play, Harutunian explores how these assumptions affect our self-image and our relationships. She does so with bombastic wit and a sensitivity missing from most other (male-written) Oobleck plays.

By failing to note that the detective story genre is merely a vehicle for the play’s activity, Helbig does a great injustice to a playwright whose perception and skill seem far greater than her critic’s.

Maura Troester

N. Kenmore