“I love criticism just so long as it’s unqualified praise.” Noel Coward
This is a quote from Noel Coward that I shared on social media this time last year and I find myself coming back to it now.
Specifically unqualified praise
Now, I have this constant self-doubt in my head every time I write about theatre. Who am I to have an opinion on theatre? I look to the Lynn Gardner, Mark Shenton, Mark Fisher and the Andrew Haydon’s of this world who in my view have the right to have an opinion on performances.
Before I got into the funny world of journalism, I studied A Level Performance Arts, Dance and English. I also performed a lot both in dance and drama. I liked to think that I have some experience and knowledge in theatre. I even started reviewing theatre shows before university back in 2012, now 5 years on I am still writing about the arts so I guess I have some experience.
But who am I claim myself as a critic, can the blogger/reviewer be a critic? Is there a difference between reviewer and critic?
I find myself thinking what classes as unqualified praise. Is it a review of a show that is written by the likes of me or is it a short and sweet review made by tweet from the audience ?
Now with social media I suppose that everyone is a critic? So does that reduce or even get rid of that meaning of unqualified praise? Perhaps everyone are professional critics these days?
What does it matter if a reviewer is unqualified anyway?
Who (if there is any) has a status of the power of a review? Who is more important? The opinion of a professional reviewer or a member of the audience? When a reviewer is written it is supposed to be written for the audience who are yet to see it or who may have already seen it and want to read about an experience. But for theatres or actors and companies the use of a reviewer is for marketing purposes. But when they feature a quote from a review will they feature reviews from Lynn Gardner for example or will they use Joe Bloggs?
Thinking back to Coward’s quote I’m still not sure that I have the right to have an opinion but if I am classes as unqualified praise then I am glad that Noel Coward welcomes it.