Today, The New York Times announced that its new co-chief theater critic would be Jesse Green, currently of New York Magazine. Green will join the Times on May 1.
To get a sense of what Green will bring to the Times, where he will have equal footing with current chief critic Ben Brantley — the Times began seeking a new critic after firing Charles Isherwood in February — the Forward perused some of his recent reviews for New York. And while the Times might have wildly diversified its staff by, cough, adding another white man to it, we’re happy to report he’s a white man who knows how to creatively use the word “shtetl.”
That term appeared, specifically, in Green’s review of Arthur Miller’s “The Price,” which opened on Broadway last week. Taken by Danny DeVito’s performance as an elderly furniture dealer, Green kvelled “DeVito as Solomon delivers himself of such shtetl-cut judgments as, ‘Anything Spanish-Jacobean, you’ll sell quicker a case of tuberculosis,’ and, ‘If they would build old hotels, I could sell that, but they only build new hotels.’”
Should you fear Green might reserve such acerbic wit only for the looming ghost of the Old Country, rest assured: The critic, when it comes to incisiveness, is an egalitarian. Introducing Sarah Ruhl’s recently-opened “How to Transcend a Happy Marriage,” he wrote “Typically, Sarah Ruhl’s plays sound like your smartest friend stoned,” and hurrah — maybe — for us, the new Lincoln Center Theater vehicle is “Ruhl’s stonedest work yet.”
If that statement is a somewhat standard expression of Green’s voice, one thing is sure: We’ll be seeing his work show up, frequently, in the pages of the beloved Twitter account “NYT Minus Context,” which includes snippets of articles from the Grey Lady that often make readers wonder what, exactly, its writers are ingesting. Recent installments have included “what’s with all the lingo,” “everyone is now Doodle,” and “set yourself on fire.” “Stonedest work yet” will fit right in.