Honesty is Still the Best Policy (especially as a critic)

My goal is to write clear, consistent and honest critical reviews that people can trust.

I hope that my readers can rely on my reviews to gauge whether or not they would be interested in seeing a particular show. With that said, I was quite surprised when last week a theatre decided to not invite me to their opening night because they felt my reviews of their productions in the past have been “mean-spirited” and lacked “constructive criticism.” They feel it’s best that if I want to “trash” their theatre or productions, then I should do it on my own dime and not theirs.

This begs the question, “Why are there even theatre critics reviewing shows if they can’t react truthfully?” I know that critics have been battling this for ages but apparently, it still needs to be addressed.

Two things I hope that you have learned about me as you’ve read The Broadway Critic:

  1. I don’t write mean reviews. Negative does not equal mean (or vice versa). I write reviews based on my reaction to the production qualities (sets, lighting, overall design), direction, artistic qualities (acting, dancing, singing), and also the story (especially if it’s a new musical or play).
  2. I try to give detailed constructive criticism when necessary. I’m not interested in having you fail, because if you failed at producing good theatre, that means I just wasted 2-3 hours of my time sitting through bad theatre. I want it to blow me away. I want you to succeed!

Whenever I write a review, I think “Can I say the same thing to the producer/director/actor in a face-to-face conversation?” If the answer is yes, then I write it. With any of my reviews, I would never hesitate to sit down and talk about the positive and negative aspects of a show with any of the creative team. While I’m not sure if that would be totally productive, I do have the integrity to stand behind what I write.

I don’t hide under anonymity as other people do in theatre chat rooms, blogs, or on other “review” sites. All I can give is my honest opinion, and that’s what I believe people want to read. I’m not going to have anyone or anything scare me into writing things I don’t agree with.

With any review, your best bet is to read them, go to the show, and make up your own opinion. Then, comment and make sure your local reviewers are being honest.

While I believe that “honestly is still the best policy,” the only person that’s going to keep anyone entirely honest is you, the reader. Respond, react, comment, and make sure you are supporting the local arts community. It is, after all, National Arts Advocacy Day.

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One thought on “Honesty is Still the Best Policy (especially as a critic)

  1. Of course, I totally agree with you. What’s the point of writing reviews if you’re not going to be honest? What really bothers me about all this is that I don’t think this would happen if you were writing for a well-known publication, but because you are a blogger, you are dispensable. But why should bloggers be held to different standards than any other critic?

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