On Monday night Come From Away (new favourite musical) opened in the West End. Having seen the show the Saturday just before I was excited to read all the glowing reviews that we’re sure to appear, as I think it’s the best musical since Hamilton (move over Miranda).
When I got into work on Tuesday and was greeted with a range of three star reviews I was HEARTBROKEN. I genuinely couldn’t believe that this glorious musical had been given such a relatively low rating, a rating which I don’t believe it deserved.
And it got me thinking, how much should we believe the critics. As someone who writes reviews for a living I like to think that people do take heed to some of what I say (or am I just really up myself?), but I also know that when I’m looking at reviews as a customer I always take them with a pinch of salt.
Take Wicked for example, it was SLATED by the critics but is now one of Broadways biggest successes.
When it comes to Come From Away I believe that a lot of the ‘high end’ papers (Guardian, Telegraph etc) missed the point of the entire show. They wanted more bite, more grit for a show that is about 9/11, but Come From Away is about celebrating the kindness of the people of Gander during a time filled with fear and hate.
Although having critics are important for news and marketing, I think it’s always good to take some of what they say on board but ultimately go to the show anyway and make up your own mind!
As with anything in the modern world (unfortunately) sometimes people just say things to be the only one in the room with a different or controversial opinion. And the same can be said for the critics. A musical has huge mass or commercial appeal? I want to be the only one in the room to dislike it, therefore everyone is talking about me (this is critics in general, not actual little old me!).
Critics from the big papers/outlets need to to also start looking at musicals or plays within their context. Only Fools and Horses, which also opened this week, was met with quite a few three star or below reviews. It doesn’t seem that a fun-loving, totally barmy show, fits the hoi palloi’s quota. Only Fools and Horses was hardly ever going to be a think piece was it?! It’s there for those members of the population who don’t really go to the theatre that much, but love the classic TV comedy. It’s a show created for accessibility, not to be groundbreaking.
As an aspiring critic, a lover of theatre and someone who believes in fairness I think that every show deserves a chance. Don’t get me wrong there are some dud shows (we all know how I feel about Aladdin), but I think it’s wrong to immediately slap 3 or 2 stars on something because there wasn’t enough ‘bite’. Take the show into its own context, and let it live!
Till Next Time,