News Ticker

Star Ratings Explained

star ratingStar ratings in theatre reviews is something that has been discussed at length by critics and magazines alike, with many different sides of the conversation pawing over the suitability and integrity of using a rating. A star rating is something I have chosen to implement for the reviews I write, and have no qualms about using these. However, I would like to take the opportunity to explain why I choose to use star ratings, and also give a bit of an explanation of what each star rating means when I award them.

Why I Use Star Ratings

  • Star ratings are incredibly useful for a show’s promotion. As a critic whose remit has always been to support shows and help them flourish, this is a tool I’m not going to take away any time soon from the show and/or its PR. There’s nothing wrong with other critics and websites choosing not to use a star rating for whatever reason and by no means suggests that they don’t wish to support the industry. There are certainly merits to the arguments for keeping them out of reviews, but this is just my decision on how I wish to support shows.
  • Some readers don’t read reviews, they just look at the star rating. And you know what, that’s fine! We are living in generation tl;dr (too long; didn’t read), and if someone comes across a review and all they want from it is a star rating and perhaps a quick 140 character snappy sentence, then this is what I give them. However, this does not distract from my commitment to writing comprehensive long-form reviews. I continue to write c.1000 words per review because there are also readers who do like to read the entire article. It’s all about trying to provide as broad and flexible a product as I can.
  • It’s a condensation of my opinion. Star ratings are incredibly arbitrary, and a star rating from a critic or website can mean something very different to another. But my opinion in the long-form review is always going to be as arbitrary and subjective as any star rating anyway. Any star rating given is just a very simplistic condensation of what I have otherwise written.

Star Ratings Explained

5 stars

This is a show of exceptional worth and talent. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s perfect. There may be some small faults with the writing, acting, or production, but it does not at all detriment what is otherwise an exceptional show.

4 stars

This is a very good show. However, there are a couple of elements in the writing, casting, or production that has a noticeable impact on the show’s quality. However, these do not detriment a show by much and I would still strongly encourage people to go see it.

3 stars

This is generally a good show, but elements of the writing, casting, or production noticeably detriment a show’s quality. However, there are still more than enough good elements to the show, and a 3 star rating shouldn’t discourage anyone from going to see it.

2 stars

This is a fair or bad show where there are issues with writing, casting, or production significantly detriment it. There are some solid good points to be made, but these aren’t strong enough to make the show good. If you were already planning to see a show that had since received 2 stars, please don’t let it dissuade you much. There may well be something that you see good that others haven’t. Remember, audiences and critics don’t always agree!

1 star

A dreadful show with very few to no redeeming qualities. This is the lowest star rating I would ever give a show, and not something I do lightly. As much as I want to support the industry as a whole, a 1 star show is something I would urge people avoid. To me, theatre this awful should never be supported or excused. Thankfully, this is a very rare occurrence and in my six years of theatre reviewing there’s only been one instance where I’ve awarded a single star!

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.