It's almost unheard of to attend an evening of theater without some jackass's cellphone going off and ruining the performance. (Here's that agonizing video of Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman begging an audience member to shut off a cell phone during A Steady Rain.) We believe anyone guilty of this offense should be slowly impaled while simultaneously forced to watching a continuous performance of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express. But the chief theater critic at the NY Times disagrees, and has revealed a sudden sympathy for cell phone miscreants:

During the fourth hour of the six-hour marathon performance of Gatz, the Elevator Repair Service’s brilliant adaptation of Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby — a phone went off just as poor Myrtle Wilson was dying onstage. And that phone belonged to my date.

The call of this phone was particularly obnoxious. It spoke (I swear) the words, “Your phone is ringing. Your phone is ringing,” again and again. And I really thought a lynch mob might descend on its owner, whom I will gallantly refer to only as A.

Big Ben goes on to do a lot of explaining, citing what he sees as mitigating circumstances which theatergoers should have taken into consideration before shooting his friend with their laser eyes. Excuses excuses. Most of the commenters on Brantley's post agree with our zero tolerance, death penalty position. Only one takes things too far, writing, "The real solution to this problem is to no longer allow critics to have two complimentary press tickets. If they want to bring a friend, that friend or the critic can pay for the ticket, just like everyone else in the audience did." Now, that's crazy talk!