Stars Turned

Like all the Fringe companies, we’ve had a love/hate relationship with reviewers.  On the one hand we solicit them like cheap French tarts, hitching up our skirts and showing our frilly knickers at the mere whiff of a scribbler.  We go online daily to scour the e-reviews, we pick up copies of The Scotsman to see if we’ve got a mensh (as we call it in the trade).  Then when the hoped-for five-star turns out to be a two- or three-star, we pick over it to find every mistake, every flaw of grammar and mis-spelling, so we can dismiss it.  Obviously no reviewer understands us as well as we understand ourselves.  ‘How dare they be so cruel about my baby?’

Not that a good review necessarily means that they like us.  Our five-star reviewer (ScotsGay) is obviously a genius, a magician of prose, a veritable Solomon.  But of the others, four star reviewers have been barely literate, spelt the name of the subject of ‘Locked In’ wrong (it’s Keith Vaughan, not Keith Vaugh) even though it’s on the programme and flyer they were given, and even appears onscreen during the performance.  Others, less appreciative, have clearly understood the show and even done a bit of research; they quote accurately from it, and their suggestions are something we will learn from when we transfer to London.

One of the problems is that, with so many shows to cover, and with an ambition to be comprehensive, publications need to recruit huge teams.  As a result, anyone with the basic ability to pick up a pen may be recruited.  So Edinburgh is awash with under-age journalists.  I thought there was a law against such perversions.  Much of the writing would not pass muster in a Junior School ‘What I did on my holidays’ assignment.

It’s about time we performers turned the tables.  I think all the companies should band together and give star ratings to the reviewers.  This should be published at the end of the festival in the form of a league table.  I think we can be trusted to be honest and self-critical enough to recognise the good bad review, and vote accordingly.  Although I’m sure there would be many more candidates for the title of Worst Reviewer of the Year. 

It would give us all a giggle.  Any takers?

Peter Scott-Presland is the author and performer ofLocked In’ (Venue 53 till Aug 25th at 12.50) and the author/director of ‘Strip Search’ (Venue 54 until Aug 25th at 23.05)


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