Every Patron
Liked Theater a lot…
But the Critic
Who lived in his head
Did NOT!

The Critic hated Theater! The whole LA scene!
Yet no one was certain why he thought it obscene.
It could be he wanted his plays to be gritty
Or wanted to see those from just New York City.
But I think, maybe, the reason for detesting his gig
Could have been that his ego was two sizes too big.

Whatever the reason,
The grit or the ’tude,
He hated productions, he wanted them booed.
He thought ’bout the woman from Seat 13A
Who first leapt to her feet and clapped for the play
And led the audience to an appalling display
Of also ovating with cries of “Hurray!”

And all of this when the work was fully cliché!

“The City of Angels inspires derision,
“Just look what it considers high concept and vision!
“No talent blooms here,” he snarled through a frown,
“It all ends up moving to New York and Chi-Town.
“And this latest play?
“It’s just one more example
“Of quality and smarts LA’s willing to trample.
“Why, those out-of-town judges will judge it with glee
“And then blame the bad taste of this faux ‘art’ on me!”

The Critic fancied himself a cultural savior.
He needed to crush this bad LA behavior!
He growled, with a purpose that was hideously growing,
“I MUST find some way to keep those Patrons from going!”

Then he got an idea!
An awful idea!

“I know just what to do!” he laughed between snorts.
“I’ll make the review about pimples and warts.
“There are plenty of nits and the Patrons’ conception
“Is that I can perceive far beyond their perception.”

So the crotchety Critic,
With a squint in his eyes,
Brought out his laptop for the new show’s demise:
A cranky critique to make it despised.

“I’ll begin at the start with a scholarly hook
“And draw some context from Doctor Gertrude McGook
“Reminding my readers just how smart that I are
“And from there I’ll move on to attacking the star!”

But more than the star, he attacked the whole cast!
He picked and he poked, not one detail was passed:
The old actor?
Too old!
The young one?
Too young!
And the heartthrob in Act II played it far too high-strung!
He trashed the co-star, the well-known Bobby DeBlyed,
Because the part of his hair was on the wrong side.
Yes, no one was spared!
He was set on destroying
Even the ingénue whose voice was annoying.

And for the writer/director, did the venom abate?
Oh, no! For her, the Critic gave a great haterly hate.
He drew out his scalpel to make the incision
And sliced through the script from its first preposition.
He hated the nouns.
He hated the verbs.
The plot was “all plodding,” the characters “absurd.”

Oh, the Critic now sneered in perverse jubilation.
He savaged the stage manager, then the theater’s location!
And then he linked the program’s typeface selection
To the four percent dip in rainforest protection!

As he tapped on his keyboard, with phrases that varied,
Oh, the Critic was certain this play would be buried!

When at last he was done, turning the show into toast,
The Critic published his notice
With a simple click: “Post”.
“Let us see,” he then mused, “if I just killed their gross.”

So back to the theater, the very next day,
To see if his words had pushed Patrons away.
But what did he find?
To the Critic’s dismay:
A two-mile queue for the show’s matinee!
For everyone, EVERYONE, wanted to say
That they, too, had seen the new play in LA!

He HADN’T stopped the Patrons from coming!
Somehow or other, they came just the same!
From just word of mouth, they came with no shame!

This puzzled the Critic. It was really a blow
To see Patrons rejecting his views of the show:
I am a critic! The most serious kind!
“For without me the culture’s in total decline!”

The ingénue’s voice?
The part in the hair?
The nouns?
The verbs?
No one seemed to care!
All these nits, the Patrons could simply ignore.
And then the Critic thought a thought he hadn’t before:

Maybe… just maybe…
Maybe, just maybe, Theater in LA was OK!

And with that thought in his thinker, they say in LA
That the Critic’s huge ego
Shrank three sizes that day!

With room in his head and his heart he could feel
That Los Angeles Theater was, in fact, the real deal.
So rather than view it as part of employment,
The Critic attended a show…
Just for enjoyment.

He bought a prime ticket
(It was Seat 13A)
And entered the theater to watch the new play.

when the last curtain fell, he felt so much elation,
That the Critic…
Led the standing ovation!

Other holiday-flavored essays:
Time To Rethink A Certain Reindeer Story
Guys and Dolls
Secret Santa

Originally published December 9, 2013 in Bitter Lemons.