Bad Publicity: popular wisdom has it that there's no such thing. Many actors and directors say they never read their reviews. I don't believe either of those things. The thespians I know read every word they can get their hands on, and they read them at least three times.
The first time they scan it quickly, looking for references to themselves; the second time they read the whole thing, being particularly alert to any perceived slight; the third time they agonise over the tiniest critical comment, which will be burnt into their consciousness for the rest of their life.
I am just as guilty. Even though I am a reviewer myself, and I know that a review is only one person's opinion, and that as a performer one should have faith in the art as directed, a hastily written quip (often hurtful remarks are the result of an inexperienced reviewer trying to be clever) can still drive me to distraction, where no one else can see the problem.
Recently I played the role of Bella in Patrick Hamilton's Gaslight for Canberra Repertory Theatre. To even out the balance, here are snippets from reviews of the play, both good and bad:
5 Reviews of Gaslight:
- Bouquet: "Director barb barnett and her cast resist the temptation to lapse into melodrama, choosing to probe for the truth beyond the psychological abuse and strange occurrences." Brickbat: "a thriller in search of greater tension and suspense"
- Bouquet: "Entertaining and spooky, with witty jokes and intense drama"
Brickbat: "The script calls for more paranoia and ambiguity to keep the audience guessing."
Full Review: City News
- Bouquet: "Kate Blackhurst plays the part of Bella Manningham very well."
Brickbat: "The play is rather wordy and is repetitive in parts."
Full Review: Stage Whispers
- Bouquet: "The audience is drawn into a complex and devious plot that maintains interest right up until the very satisfying climax."
Brickbat: "A straight forward production"
Full Review: Canberra Critics Circle
- Bouquet: "The members of the Canberra Repertory Theatre showed their wonderful talent"
Brickbat: "The highlight of the show has to be the curtain"
Full Review: Woroni
Full Review: Canberra Times