The Theatre TeamMichael Derringer

Ani Brooker

Reviewing is about the interaction between theatre, who makes it and who observes it. It's a discussion, a subjective one, with no right or wrong answers. I see no reason why our response to a play can't be creative, just as theatre is creative. No review causes harm: the best of them provoke thought and provide insight, the worst are merely banal. 

Richard Stockwell

I review because I enjoy theatre and I enjoy writing. I don’t pretend to know much about either, but I do know when a play has made me laugh or moved me to think.  I like theatre that engages me, and my reviews are a personal response for that. Student theatre is at its best when it experiments and takes risks, even if this means some things don’t quite come off I'm critical of the bland and the talentless – but if I thought I could do better, I would be out there auditioning.

Sophie Lewisohn

In the olden days, the critics had the last word on a play. Distributed in newspaper format, their opinions could be kept or discarded - but not engaged with. The advent of online publishing with forums for comment beneath each article has transformed the review from final say to the beginning of the discussion. It is a healthier structure, as it reminds us that the critic’s assessment is only that - his own singular point of view.

What we look like when we give a one-star reviewMichael Derringer

Jack Belloli

Reviewing in Cambridge is ultimately a learning opportunity.  A reviewer’s job is to invest time and energy into articulating the effect a production has on them, and tracing that effect to the successful creative decisions of the cast and crew. By doing this, I let an audience know what to expect, and support those involved in the production in continuing to put on better performances. That’s the idea, anyway. But I’m still learning how to do it...

Frances Docx

At the risk of making my role sound redundant, it is important that reviews are seen for what they are: merely a brief snatch of opinions about the first night (which often will not be the best night) of a production, peppered with a bit of self-indulgent wit on the part of the reviewer. They are only a guideline and perhaps if I was to review every night of a production, we’d see whole array of fickle star ratings. 

Rivkah Brown

Theatre reviews are not gospel truth, I don’t believe that reviews ‘make’ or ‘break’ a show: people appreciate that what’s written is the judgement of a non-professional, student critic. I suggest people shouldn’t confuse prejudice with opinion: critics are not trying to maliciously attack or sycophantically flatter any production, but to enter the debate.

What we look like when we give a five-star reviewMichael Derringer

Georgina Wadham

John Osborne once said that "asking a writer what he thinks about critics is like asking what a lamp-post what it thinks about dogs". It’s not easy to discover what someone really thinks about your work; honesty can be brutal. The above statement applies to the work of those on both sides of the safety curtain. Like it or not, we all move in the same circles. The critic-artist relationship will always be fraught; what both parties need to get by in the cramped world of Cambridge theatre is a little good-humour and grace.

Fred Maynard

I really shouldn’t review anything. I want to act in and put on plays in Cambridge, and reviewing can only hinder that goal, surely? Good reviews are seen as just sycophancy; bad ones earn you the enmity of people you might want a part from soon. I still think it’s important to have a few people who are regularly doing shows also reviewing. For one thing, we know as performers the kind of reviews that we felt gave us a fair hearing and those that didn’t. Reviewing feels much more like a responsibility to the cast. Even when giving bad reviews, empathy is important, I think, if not especially banterous.

Lucinda Higgie

As someone who would scrap star-ratings if I could, I find myself in a strange position when it comes to giving them. If I'm not unequivocal about a play I'm reviewing this term, if I love and hate something for different reasons and in equal parts, that's practically impossible to get across in a star-rating. I wish the allocation of stars would be taken with more of a pinch of salt, because deciding how many to give isn't exactly a science.