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A few John Simon memories
Posted by: aleck 10:45 pm EST 11/27/19
In reply to: re: John Simon died last night. - Delvino 10:06 am EST 11/25/19

I spent some time with John Simon on different occasions. The thing that most impressed me at the theatre that when a production was about to start he always straighten his back and looked with childlike anticipation to the stage. He always seemed to be expecting to see something of interest. (This is in contrast to another critic who I knew well who was growing weary of the job who once remarked that to him the three most terrifying words in the English language were: "Curtain going up.") By intermission that initial positive anticipation had turned to dismay. But I think Simon was actually a little stage struck and more than a little star struck -- for certain stars. Once sitting next to him at a performance I noticed that Helen Mirren was sitting a few rows away. I mentioned that I saw Mirren and Simon almost jumped out of his seat to get a look: "Where? Where?"

But sitting next to Simon on a bus was an embarrassing. He would examine every person who got on the bus and provide a loud appraisal of each person's looks, dress, weight, posture, and possible IQ. All negative, of course. He was an incurable.

But the best part was that he would proudly carry copies of hate mail in his jacket pocket that he loved to show and read out loud -- emphasizing the grammatical errors. One time, however, he got a gushing fan letter from a would-be playwright that Simon carried around to show how someone FINALLY understood him. It was from David Lindsey-Abaire -- an unknown a the time. (I thought it was a little sucky-up, but Simon was thrilled.)

All in all, I think Simon's passing could end what a few years from now will seem like the Golden Age of Theatre Criticism. I mean what's left? Anything really serious. Any more than a few amateur blogs? We certainly can't call Brantley (or Jesse) any heavyweights. Brantley is a tired hack with increasingly bizarre impressions of things. And Green's views seem often childlike, more suited to those theatre blogs written by teenage girls living in Forest Hills Gardens.
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