The revival of Romeo and Juliet starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad opened last night on Broadway. I posted my review, as I do. And all the other reviewers posted their reviews…as they do. For the first time in all the years I have been writing reviews–heck, in all the time I’ve been going to theatre, everyone pretty much said the same thing. If you want to go into that, you can read my review, or the Times, or TheaterMania…whoever! They’re all more or less saying the same thing.
So, I asked myself (and twitter) is it possible that we ALL thought the same thing about this production? It’s so rare that any group of people have the same opinion, let alone a group of CRITICS! One response was, “That review sounded bought,” referring to a few choice lines in the New York Times review by Ben Brantley. Mostly because what he said was wholly unbelievable to many viewers.
That got me thinking even more–what do fans prefer to hear in a review? Niceties, or the truth?
I’ll tell you why I’m asking (and I really do want to hear your opinion): we all know that people get jumped on if they speak negatively of a show–but what good does it do for a reviewer to just sugar coat their opinions?
I, myself, am guilty of both sides. Recently, I have found myself toning down what I have to say about shows. I will never lie about whether or not I like a show. If I don’t like something, I will either say so, or say nothing at all. Furthermore, no one would ever both paying me to review a show positively (why would they when people like Brantley hold all the power?). So whatever you read in my reviews will always be my true opinion, but it might be watered down. Mostly, because I don’t want to hurt feelings, and more realistically, because I am sick of the backlash of people who get angry just because they don’t agree with what I’ve written.
So, I guess what I’m asking is, What do YOU prefer to read in reviews? Do you like hearing the honest to God truth, no matter what? Or do you prefer to hear glowing reviews of your favorite performers regardless of the person’s actual opinion? Please be honest in answering this.
And! Beyond that, whose reviews do you always look for after opening? NYTimes? BWW? Playbill? Theatermania? Maybe even mine? Be honest, I truly would love to know.
Side note: Here are a few other articles I’ve written about opinions and reviewing, if you’re interested.