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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Good Night, Sweet Joe

posted by on May 21 at 12:28 PM

Apparently, Joe Adcock (theater critic at the PI for a grazillion years) is retiring.

Emails to his address bounce back with the following:

I will be out of the office until Tuesday, May 27, which will be my last day of work. As of Wednesday, May 28, I will have retired.

Because of a hiring freeze at the PI, nobody will replace Mr. Adcock. “We’ll continue to cover theater vigorously,” said arts editor Chris Beringer, “with freelancers.” Which is to say, less vigorously than before.

It’s funny—just yesterday on Slog, I was admiring these two unmistakably Adcockean sentences, from a recent review: “The play often is labored and never subtle. But it is amusing at times.”

I’ll always remember—and admire—the man’s ardor for clipped sentences, understatement, and copular verbs.

Playwright Bret Fetzer discovered Adcock’s (typically understated) retirement announcement while sending mass emails about the June 6 edition of late-night cabaret Spin the Bottle. He offered this remembrance:

He was the only reviewer in town who made a serious effort to see damn near everything, particularly during the fringe theater boom in the 1990s. But seeing so much theater may have taken its toll; he’s the only human being I’ve ever met who was more lucid in person than in print.

Talking to him, he’s a gentle, thoughtful guy with a bemused sense of humor; reading him, it’s like he sat down to type and demons came out of his fingers, wreaking havoc on his ability to write a coherent paragraph.

This didn’t keep him from having insights — in some of his reviews of my plays, he definitely pointed out things, good and bad, that made me think about what I was doing — but it did lead to reviews like the one in which he compared a production, not once but twice in the same review, to an enema. And he meant it as a compliment.

Read Joe Adcock’s last theater review here.

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Well, it's the end of an era. My favorite JoeView: "The characters walk and talk, as do the actors."

Posted by S. P. Miskowski | May 21, 2008 10:07 PM

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