I'll give you a minute to watch it.
Having raised two girls, I sat through an unfair share of really bad school plays. Just for the record, by the time time they reached high school (this was in Holliston, Massachusetts) I also experienced theater and music equal to a lot of what I see in Boston. I'm not sure if that's a commentary on the high school productions or the quality of theater in Boston; I'll let you, the reader, decide that one.
But, when my kids were younger, I used to sit in the dark, grinding my teeth much in the manner of this comic character. It was because the people who made up the audience--parents, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and the odd relative or friend of the odd relative who got dragged along--would accept any travesty that happened on stage, well into the middle school years.
I don't mean bad acting; what can you expect from kids whose voices are cracking like pond ice in the spring? But there were times when things were just sloppy. I'm talking about three-minute scene changes. Actors bumping into each other. Sound cues that came out of nowhere. That sort of thing. I imagined, while I was always on the verge of standing up, like our cranky critic, and shouting my frustration at the stage, the other parents and relatives would bear through those intolerable times for two reasons. One, they didn't have any knowledge of what was supposed to be happening on the stage, and two, they didn't care. They were simply doing their duty as family members, and then they'd go back to whatever it was that they did.
Because here's the kicker. Here's my accusation to America. If comparable travesty happened in a sports arena--botched passes and plays, shoddy uniforms--there's a good chance that there would be hell to pay. There would be discussions about the team's chance, or lack thereof, of making the semis this year. A dropped pass would elicit groans from the crowd. Why aren't missed lighting and sound cues treated the same way? If only Tommy hadn't dropped that pass we'd be in the regionals. If they had just tightened up the cues, that would have been a pretty enjoyable production.
This isn't any news flash: As a society we care and know more about sports than we do the arts. Somehow, young people who really are drawn to the arts rise through the strata of their school years, usually because of well-funded programs and tireless teachers. But there is a real dichotomy that comes into play that extends into the adult years. We celebrate our sports teams with parades of duck boats, but what about our artists?
Let me tell you: I just saw The Glass Menagerie at the A.R.T., and the cast and crew definitely deserved a duck boat parade.