Number 51

[Editor’s note: Due to overlapping vacation schedules here at the Suburban Free Bugle, our community columnist, Charity Billows, was unable to cover the arts beat last week. The following review was filed by freelance restaurant critic Evan Snider-Diggs, whose column, “The Tinfoil Swan,” will return when space permits.]

One Endeavors to be kind when assessing the efforts of youth, but sometimes honesty—by which I mean, of course, the application of rigorous critical methodology—is the greatest kindness one can offer to society’s tender shoots. And thus I must report that the production of “Darn Yankees” currently treading the boards at West Acres Middle School is the most egregious affront to the ancient gods of thespianism that yours truly has ever been compelled to witness—and yes, I do include the experimental Macbeth, starring TV’s Ted Baxter and his winsome wife, Georgette, that I stumbled into during my too-brief stint as a would-be screenwriter in Hollywood.

I admit to a certain lack of erudition regarding theatrical history (though I bow to no one in my mastery of les choses gastronomiques; parenthetically, I will be lecturing on shallots at the Frontage Road Branch Library two weeks from next Wednesday—two o’clock sharp!), but didn’t this play, when originally staged, use a stronger epithet in its title? Bowdlerization in the age of Britney—what a tasty irony! Almost as tasty as the remains of a Bloomin’ Onion, salvaged from my otherwise humdrum pre-theatrical meal, which I smuggled into the gymnasium in my journalist’s rucksack and surreptitiously nibbled on during the overture.

I trust, faithful reader, that you know the plot of this pearl of the American stage—something about baseball and Old Nick and a temptress named Rona or Lana or Lulu, I believe. I must confess that, under the influence of the tryptophan in the Turkey Fiesta Sizzlers I had consumed at dinner, I dozed off rather early in the first act, waking occasionally to the honks and squeaks of adolescent voices wending their precarious way through show tunes, and wondering, as I gazed up at the basketball stanchions that had been cranked to the ceiling to make room for art, if I had somehow descended to what the guiding lights of this production would no doubt call the innermost circles of heck.

Yet how does one explain the applause? How does the gimlet-eyed critic, the arbiter of all things aesthetic, interpret the throaty roar of the vox populi? And how does he resist when his spouse and regular dining companion, the redoubtable Mrs. Mona Snider-Diggs, hauls him up by his elbow to join the standing ovation? Reader, he doesn’t. He rises to his feet, blinking and dyspeptic, as the aforementioned Mona shouts “Bravo!” in his ear. “Such energy!” she hollers. “Such charm! Such youthful exuberance! This was better than the Ordway—better than the Chan!” And he claps. Indeed, he fairly shrieks like a teenybopper at a Beatles concert. For as all those who read him regularly know by now, whatever Mona wants, Mona gets.

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