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Monday, December 13, 2010

Boojum! (Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard)


Editor’s Note:

A rather simple reviewing assignment has lead to a remarkably elaborate and completely mystifying series of communiqués from this publication’s dutiful associate, John Taflan. While normally a steadfast employee of this institution, Mr. Taflan seems to have taken decidedly odd turn in the wake of his most recent charge: A critique of the elusive, thought-provoking Boojum! (a co-production of Caffeine Theatre and Chicago Opera Vanguard) presented until December 19th at the Chicago DCA Theater.

On the evening of December 11, 2010, Mr. Taflan was seen in attendance at the aforementioned production. Eyewitness accounts describe him as…disturbed. Mr. Taflan made no small secret of his adoration for the piece during both its intermission and post-show lobby-standing, and was heard to bombastically remark, “The hunt is on, my friends. We shan’t be stopped in our quest for the snark! Those bastards will never get their synopsis. It’s a boojum!”

What is a snark? How does one account for the use/misuse (?) of the word boojum? We can only guess at the meaning of these statements.

A bundle—purportedly from Mr. Taflan—discovered outside our offices the next morning, offered little in the way of coherence; a haggard pile of scrawl and doodling on yellowed legal paper, an audio-cassette, some scattered index cards, and three blurry photographs of what could only be discerned as a nipple. As promised, Mr. Taflan did not include a synopsis.

In the interest of journalistic purity, we are presenting the written contents of that bundle for your dissemination (the drawings and photographs were deemed too alarming for publication and have been turned over to the proper authorities). Perhaps you, our loyal readers, can make sense of his madness.

All attempts to reach Mr. Taflan for comment have proved futile.

From the legal paper:

Incredibly well sung show…Trager/Balestrieri soar as the Baker/Carroll/Dodgson. The hunt is occurring as I write. Can we catch the snark? What if the snark is a boojum? Look to employ butchers, bakers, bankers, barristers, bowlers, bango-players, Brawny paper towels, beavers….beavers… Your creation is who you are. Your creations control you.

Two Alices. How can that be? Again, incredible singing. Marielle and Heather…both Alice…both different. Double Alice. What does it mean?

Twins. Two of everything. Our souls are torn into a million pieces. Born of love, our desires grab hold of us. Kevin Bishop and Stephen Rader are one in the same. Powerful song. At least they’re not triplets.

Sevigny with a cleaver. Reyes with a bell. Grubb with an umbrella. Deger with safety pins. Watch as Carroll’s creations torment him. Watch as Carroll’s creations assist him. A wall of gorgeous sound. Complicated melodies. Mixed meter.

I have found the snark! The snark is the journey. The destination is the boojum.

From a transcription of the audio-cassette. Taflan appears to have attended some sort of holiday gathering later in the evening:

Unnamed woman: Bob! Didn’t expect to see you here, tonight. Oh, and you brought Barbara. Barbara, it is very nice to meet you.

Bob: Thanks for having us. Where should we put our coats?

Unnamed woman: Just put them in the bedroom. There’s bourbon and bon-bons in the breakfast nook.

Bob: Thanks!

Unnamed woman: Alright, who wants to play Balderdash? Bill, how about you?

Bill: Sure! But you’d better beware; I’ll boot your Balder-butt!

Unnamed woman: Butt nothing, Bill. Bring on your Balder-bashing! I’ll take a bite of your brain and boldly bridge your brackish bragging with my skill. John? You want to play?

Taflan: (Inaudible.)

Unnamed woman: Bob! Bring Barbara! Bravado’s boring, Bill. Bob’s brave Balderdashing bested Barbara’s blank boldness before Bob bought--

Taflan: (Interrupting. Laughs uncontrollably.)

Unnamed woman: --John, are you ok?

Taflan: Boojum!

Unnamed woman: Bravo, John. That’s a great one. Should we begin there, buds?

Assembled guests: Boooooooo!

Unnamed woman: Sorry, John Taflan. It appears that your brooding hasn’t brought you any insight into the goings-ons, around here. Our party guests prefer their Balderdash a sconce more grounded.

Taflan: Please, no more John Taflan. From now on, I shall be known as Alfalfa Sprigs.

Bob: What’s that you just said, brother?

Taflan: Alfalfa Sprigs. I always eat my greens. I have found the snark! The snark is the journey. The destination is the boojum.

At this point, the tape becomes unintelligible.


From an index card included amongst the papers:

Alfalfa Sprigs

Are pulled from the wigs

Of the bench-headed tenders of law

Who insist that you rhyme

(Almost all of the time)

But accepting a last stanza’s flaw:

I have found the snark

The snark is the journey

The destination is the boojum.

From back of the one of the photographs:

Boojum!: A+

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