Monday, May 18, 2009

by Penn Kemp

Cutting Re: Marks, or The last SOB, or “Only a Play but My Play”, or The Hedge Hog, or The Cock's Comb, or The Head Cheese, or Critical Mass/Mess/Age, or Enough!

Lame!” So the Critic panned my latest play, dismissing months of labour in one derisively decisive cliché. I limp from the computer, crestfallen. Cock o’ the walk, this Reviewer never hedged bets nor minced words so his blog goes viral fast. My thesaurus suggests apt synonyms for Critic: enemy, opponent, detractor, censor, columnist. Calumnist! Drama­- he wants drama? He’ll soon be dead-panning, minced-meat: mark my words. This Detractor will be tracked down. His next review will be his life's, before the screen goes blank.

Revenge is sweet, they say, so I bake a cake when I know he’s coming over. A death-day cheesecake, with tinfoil-wrapped coins for Cerberus inside. Slicing his piece, my knife slips... How clumsy of me, raspberry-icing cake in his face like that. (Beware Playwrights scorned...)

Now I literalize the metaphor, scalping that wigged-out crest right off his head. Underneath is a mass of worms squirming like grey cells: a paper wasp’s nest, a mess of sodden bills in low denominations of payola. A head in hedge funds: that’s how his mind roils. Cutting this long story short, I leave the knife wiggling in his wooden blockhead.

The crummy Critic on my floor looks up beseechingly, mouth rasping scarlet. I lean low under the hedge of wig to catch his last sob: “How could you? It was just a play…” His eyes glaze cherry-red. I’d better be quick before he’s dust. “Eat chalk,” I snarl, stalking off to key in my forthcoming title, Justice: a Play.

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