I was wading through my emails this morning the way I usually do after a review comes out — in a HazMat suit surrounded by bomb-sniffing dogs — when I happened upon this message:
Re: Your usual spite
Mr. Jones, please don’t ever attend another show in which I appear or with which I have any association. Every time you have reviewed my work, you stoop low to find unkind things to say about me. It makes no difference in the long run, but your unrestrained disgust for my acting is a dead giveaway that you have some personal vendetta toward me. The reactions of audiences and many, many fellow theatre specialists are always diametrically opposed to your opinions when it comes to me. The fact that Art and Science received a standing ovation after every performance, including the one you attended is all I really care about. I remember writing to you once before about your apparent loss of touch with reality regarding me. Luckily, I turn down more roles than I accept. Your opinion has no effect whatsoever on my work in theatre. You are so obviously biased against me, that I am convinced that either I offended you, or I rejected you. Either way, I was right. As Glinda said to the WWW, “You have no powers here. Be gone, before someone drops a house on you, too.”
You can imagine my shock and surprise at receiving this letter … only because I honestly had no freaking clue who this guy is. Honestly.
Of course, it doesn’t make much sense because I don’t know what he’s talking about anyway. I have never reviewed anyone or anything with spite — why would I? I just give my honest, sincere opinion about something offered up for critique. Trust me, I’ve written glowing reviews of people I personally can’t stand, and happily so. My opinion of people as individuals has nothing to do with the quality of their work.
I’ve also never understood people who write hate letters to critics, when obviously they were wounded by the words of others themselves. If I’m so terrible for reviewing you, why do you get to say mean things in “reviewing” me? The difference, of course, is I don’t take it personally, even though you intend it personally.
The author did mention the play by name — a forgettable thing that closed yesterday at Frank’s Place, just hours before he wrote to me — and though the review ran a few weeks ago, I have some vague recollection of the actor. I certainly didn’t see a standing ovation on opening night, though; certainly I stood at the end only to make my way to the door. But as for having seen this gentleman, or having reviewed him, or having received previous emails from him … well, I’m drawing a blank.
Anyway, I tried hitting “reply” to let the actor know I’d received his email and to give my standard response — “Thank you for your feedback,” possibly with the little add-on, “who are you, again?” — however it was not to be: His email address did not accept my reply. So, if anyone knows this gentleman, please thank him on my behalf for reading my reviews. Also, you might want to let him know that I will continue to review plays without predetermining whether he will be in them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll love him in the next thing I see him in. Or maybe I’ll just remember him.