Subverting the Review

4 Apr

Recently some of my theatre-making friends have been complaining about the standard of reviewing in this city. Not that they’ve been marching in the street about it. And I doubt they’ve sent off any terse emails. They’ve just been grumbling over their post-show drinks.

They’re not complaining that the reviews are unfavourable. They’re complaining that they’re badly written.

What makes a good review?*

Now, that’s a good question. Who gets to determine that?

Now, where are those pigeons?

Now, where are those pigeons?


It’s commonly said, that in their judgement of productions, reviewers can be neither right nor wrong. It’s accepted that their evaluations are subjective.

Clearly, this ‘problem’ also faces anyone attempting to define what a good review should be.

And let me go further. If I was to go to a play determined that it should fit certain parameters or structures I’d be missing the whole point of the creative endeavour. And that, I believe, is also true of writing about theatre.

Theatre is magic making, life giving, world creating. An insistence that reviews be a certain thing is a refusal to play. Don’t be the shy kid who won’t join in.

Veronica Kaye


*I guess they could start by being literate. Though I’m not sure who gets to determine that either.

2 Responses to “Subverting the Review”

  1. lisathatcher April 7, 2014 at 2:07 am #

    I think we need more reviewers. Theatre production is such a big project, it needs more circulating conversation.
    If there were at least fifteen reviews for every theatrical work in Sydney, the quality of the reviews could vary depending on style and it wouldn’t feel so important.
    More lovely voices I say.
    Film probably has too many (but even then, I’d rather thousands discussing film than a few) but still, one voice among many becomes merely an opinion and nothing more. Too few voices gives a review too much power, and that is never a good thing.

    • veronicakaye April 7, 2014 at 4:09 am #

      I agree, Lisa. The more voices the better! And I’m sure theatre makers would rather be talked about than not talked about!

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