Matt Trueman’s Guardian blog regarding the etiquette of bloggers reviewing previews has proved to be incredibly provocative – both the original article and Twitter have been alive with responses from critics, bloggers, theatre makers and punters seemingly either agreeing with his views or suggesting he’s deposed Hosni Mubarak as Public Enemy Number One.
Both as a theatre maker and as a blogger who doesn’t write reviews, I have huge respect for those who do – and who spend their own hard-earned cash to see a show through choice and then let others know their opinions. ‘Opinions’ is a key word here when dealing with bloggers; by-and-large, bloggers aren’t driven by an agenda to serve a particular audience or readership like professional reviewers are – and I think this is where Matt’s choice of incendiary phrases such as “the cynical practice of reviewing previews” has led to people taking exception and focusing on the apparent divide between blogging and professional criticism. The bloggers I’ve met reviews shows because they love theatre, and enjoy analysing and commenting on what they watch; they’re not driven by a cynical motivation to get hits to their site and to trump professional critics. There are undoubtedly some out there who do want to be the first to break the stories about how good/bad a show is, but I’d say it’s their right to do so as they will be paying for the chance to see a show – not getting comps and canapés at the interval like the critics.