Apparently the theatre blogosphere is united in its dismissal of this experiment in theatre criticism. Matt Freeman, Matt J, Isaac, and a host of others have dismissed, with few words of explanation and lots of eye-rolling and sniggering, the use of customer recommendations that, at places like Amazon.com and Netflix, have successfully provided a useful and important aspect of the broadening of readership and viewership. So I have to ask what there is to object to in this case. Is it as Erica says in Rob Kendt's comments: "I'm not sure how anyone who isn't intimately familiar with the creation process of a show can be an useful critic." Really? Only insiders have the right to have an opinion about the theatre, and to have that opinion heard? Or is it more the "don't try this at home" objection: real critics are trained experts, and the unwashed masses should simply shut up and listen?
Are these reviews going to reach the heights of Kenneth Tynan, Robert Brustein, and Stanly Kaufman? Of course not. But when I am looking at a book at Amazon, I find the insights of those who have read the book before me, no matter what their background, very helpful in my evaluation.
And good God, given the quality of theatre criticism we are confronted with every day in the media, can these really be that much worse?