Volume XVII, Issue 38 # September 17 - September 23, 2009


We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 •E-mail them to [email protected]. or submit your letters on-line by clicking here.

Dinner Party Unfairly Served

Dear Bay Weekly:

2nd Star’s Current production, Neil Simon’s The Dinner Party is, by Simon’s own admission, not his typical yuk-a-minute script. In an interview about the play, Simon hedges around the issue of it being biographical (like one of the characters, he was also married to the same woman twice). He does say that his choice to set it in Paris was more incidental to his desire to get it out of New York than any need to make it French. Nowhere in the script, or in Simon’s notes on the play, does it say that these people are indeed French, speak French or even live in Paris. In fact, in both the road and New York productions, the character of Albert spoke in a broad Nu Yawk accent. The Bay Weekly reviewer obviously saw “posh, French restaurant,” came expecting to find Maurice Chevalier munching escargot and singing GiGi, and when that Frenchness wasn’t there, got very upset.

The theatre critic has obligations often overlooked in the heat of the moment. Because of the power of the written word, the critic needs to be acutely aware of the fact that money and futures often ride hard upon his comments. The critic’s obligations are not only to his viewers or readers, but also the production, the playwright and the institution of the theatre. Never to themselves. Artists deserve a dispassionate and informed critique of their work, never personal assails.

Like their brethren, news anchors, critics have autarchic rein to awe and beguile the common reader, ratchet up their ratings with spin doctoring and buzz words, and priggishly look insightful while doing it. They act incredulous, look disapprovingly and display expressions of profound concern and superior learning. They often actually have zero firsthand experience of any subject, other than as observers, and that only by virtue of the title of their jobs, commentators. Notoriously liberal journalism schools have installed in most a holier-than-thou attitude that somehow they speak for the public’s commonsense and morality. When they speak, they should have the concern to get it right.

Regarding The Dinner Party at 2nd Star, it’s obvious that the reviewer sent by Bay Weekly did zero research into Neil Simon’s intent with this script, and therefore cannot say if the cast or director were true to his intent. When we, as artists, offer our work up to the public, we need and expect a quality review of what we produce. For our own personal growth, if for nothing else. Our potential audience deserves it also.

Not what it got.

–Charles W. Maloney, via email

Editor’s note: Mr. Maloney is the director of 2nd Star Productions’ The Dinner Party, reviewed by Bay Weekly in the issue of September 10

Tobacco Hogshead a Sight for Sore Eyes

Dear Bay Weekly:

I was thrilled to come across the story about tobacco farming in Maryland, and more delighted to see the picture of the hogshead in the paper of Sept. 10 [www.bayweekly.com/year09/issue_37/dock.html]. I remember these barrels quite well. My father used to get me up early in the morning to help him store the tobacco and get it ready for transport.

I would love to get a copy of the picture to frame and hang in my home. Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories!

–Betty Tounsberry, Upper Marlboro