Should Critics Expect a Plus-One Ticket?

theater critic plus one perk perqThe Telegraph: Critics have a job to perform at the theater: to help the public understand where to spend hard earned dollars and precious time.  Of course, it never hurts to have a little fun on the job and critics often invite a friend to accompany them to the office on the theater’s dime.  The Artistic Director of Britain’s National Theatre, Rufus Norris, is changing that expectation, however.  In a move that has been raising eyebrows, beginning in August, critics will receive only one free ticket with a second ticket available for purchase.  There are some that believe this is Norris’ response to a string of poorly reviewed shows.

The Telegraph’s Theater Critic, Dominic Cavendish, writes of the new policy:

The “plus one” is an invaluable, inexpensive extra weapon in a critic’s armoury – aimed, honourably, at striking after the ‘truth’ of an experience – and for any theatre to deprive lead reviewers of that weapon is only to shoot itself in the foot.

Nevertheless, Cavendish’s comments presuppose the plus-one is someone that has the necessary background and intelligence to be reviewing shows in the first place.

The Theatre’s spokesperson indicated that the intention was to place more actual reviewers in seats during press showings:

Whilst it’s vital that we maintain and nurture the highly-valued, long-standing relationships we already have with the press, we also need to reach new audiences through wider engagement with broadcast, print, and online media.

Which begs the question: do the online bloggers that the National Theatre hinted it wants in its audience have the necessary background and intelligence to be reviewing shows in the first place?

About Tracey Paleo

Tracey Paleo is Associate Editor at FootLights Magazine. She's also the Founder and Chief Editor of the arts and culture site, Gia On The Move, where she often reviews live performance events.

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