Review: The problematic Picture of Dorian Gray, Trafalgar Studios 2
Review: Ralph Fiennes is The Master Builder, Old Vic

To use star ratings or not to use star ratings

5623485582_b245fe56ba_mThis is something I've been wrestling with for a while now, do I use star ratings on my reviews? I used to; several years ago I contributed reviews to an aggregation website so star ratings were required. When the website got shelved, I shelved the stars.

I don't like boiling down reviews to a number out of five. People can see the star rating and make a snap judgement without any context and three out of five might mean average to one person or good to another. Star ratings can often say as much about the reviewer as they can about the play. 'Of course so and so would give that five stars' or 'they never like that sort of production anyway'. Who hasn't scrolled through the different reviews of a much loved play and judged the critics by whether they agreed or disagreed? There is nothing wrong with that of course.

So why am I considering them again? The main reason is that I'm getting asked to review more and more. More than a third of the 100+ plays I saw last year were 'press' tickets and so I asked some theatre PR's what they thought about star ratings on reviews. The answer was that they are a double-edged sword but ultimately a really useful tool for marketing. 

If star ratings can help champion a brilliant piece of fringe theatre then that has to be a good thing, surely?

There is of course an element of ego. To have Rev Stan's Theatre blog name checked on the poster/website for a play would be pretty amazing - but quotes don't tend to get used without star ratings.

So I'm giving it a go and will review my starred reviews later in the year.

Star image by Melissa Petrie on Flickr and used under a creative commons license.