There's a running joke among critics that the reason they are given aisle seats is that they are statistically more likely to die during a play than another audience member. On the aisle, the dead critic is more easily removed from the theater.
The death of the critic is something many actors have wished for, if only in jest. Conversely, there are plays that have made critics wish for their own swift demise. Critic as villain is a theatrical trope. For decades, playwrights have written critics into plays only to mock them, and occasionally kill them. Because before the Internet, the critic's pen was strong enough to shut down a show in a week.
In Jeff Swearingen's new play Stiff- which opens at Fun House Theatre and Film August 1 - the producer at Tin Box Theatre finds Mickey Blake, the city's most powerful critic, dead after a show's opening night. The producer, director and playwright don't want the critic to have died in their show, so what ensues is part Bullets Over Broadway, part Weekend at Bernie's.More »