Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Quit Dicking Around

Gotta raise another eyebrow at the Washington Post, that bastion of free-thinking. Their Theatre section is sending mixed messages to the Washington Shakespeare Company these days. Their rave review of WSC's "Kafka's Dick," running in rep at the scrappy company's warehouse in Arlington, contained everything but the title.

This internationally read, Pulitzer prize winning newspaper is a little too embarrassed to report the title of the show they are giving thumbs up to? A show which has a substantial pedigree, by renowned playwright Alan Bennett? Are things so bad these days that the Post's editorial staff has to be careful to be "family friendly," even when it means refusing to print the show's title in its own review? (This when that slang term is being bandied about on basic cable every night.)

Those delicate and demure arts critics did it again with today's Backstage column, in which Jane Horwitz interviews the show's director but still declines to name the play, citing it was "edited for publication here."

Not only a cowardly stance on the part of The Post (I guess they might get a letter! For printing the title of the play! Yikes!), but completely hypocritical. On the opposite page from the Backstage Column, the Post's Guide to the Lively Arts prominently displays the full title, "Kafka's Dick," in bold, capital letters. Of course, the Lively Arts listings are paid for by the theatres themselves, so there is some money involved.

The Washington Post believes this play so important that they went back and interviewed the director and actors for a follow-up piece. But they still maintain their "high standards" by refusing to print the name of the play.

Except when somebody pays them to.

Update as of 12/21:
In Friday's Guide to the Lively Arts, the WSC's ad, for which the theatre pays, has now been censored. It no longer displays the title "Kafka's Dick," but rather coyly, "Kafka's D**k." But the Smut-Snatchers at The Post have still overlooked their Weekend section, where the show remains correctly and completely titled in the Mini-Reviews section. It's even a critic's pick.

A censor's work is never done!