Why being a reviewer is tough

8 Jul

The popular perception of reviewers is that we are superficial, lazy, pompous, careless and shallow.

Being a reviewer is tough.

It’s not all champagne and free tickets.

Firstly, you have so little time. The play may have taken years to write, had oodles of development and months of rehearsal. At most, you have a couple of days. So you seem superficial.

Secondly, you have so little space. A play can last two and a half hours. You can’t expect a reader’s attention for more than five minutes. So you look lazy.

Thirdly, the criteria by which you evaluate the play are hardly universal, are probably idiosyncratic, and are almost certainly not shared by the artists. But the review isn’t meant to be a discussion of you and your aesthetics, so you mention your criteria blandly or ignore them all together. So, you sound pompous.

Fourthly, you really can’t give much away. There’s the taboo against spoilers, but its pretty much true of all the best bits of the play. All your assertions seem unsubstantiated. So you’re careless.

Fifthly, a play has multiple voices. That’s their point, and their glory. You only have one. You’re shallow.

And when you publish the review, trying so very hard to believe honesty is possible, a whole bundle of serious artists read it and think ‘That superficial, lazy, pompous, careless, shallow bitch got free tickets. And champagne. Which we paid for.’

Being a reviewer ain’t easy.

Veronica Kaye

Theatre Red

One Response to “Why being a reviewer is tough”


  1. Jerusalem | Theatre Red - August 31, 2013

    […] (And so what follows is probably rather shallow. In my defense, I direct readers to my article ‘Why being a reviewer is tough’ – https://theatrered.wordpress.com/2012/07/08/why-being-a-reviewer-is-tough/ ) […]

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