Cabaret Whore's Sarah-Louise Young Decides Not to Read Her ReviewsDate: 31 July 2011
I’ve just been asked whether I want to read my reviews during the Edinburgh festival. As someone who has always produced their own work, this is a novel concept. It was with great delight that I said no. Which is not to say that reviews are not important. On the contrary, a good write up in The Scotsman can make a show and a bad review can put folk off.
There is usually a mad frantic rush on Blu-tack and other stationery goods over the month of August as performers race to get stars and quotes attached to their flyers and out into the hands of potential punters as soon as possible. I’ve seen fights break out over guillotines and glue guns. There’s also a new influx of people arriving daily so there’s always an opportunity to re-sell your show. Hopefully the bad reviews get buried and the good ones get plastered across the city.
My choice to focus on the work and not what people think about it doesn’t mean that I don’t care. I do, very much, but it’s the audience’s opinion that matters the most in Edinburgh. The first year I took my Cabaret Whore show to the festival it was in the Free Fringe and word of mouth meant we went from 34 people on day one to 60 on day two and standing room only for the rest of the run. We had one favourable online review out in the first week but then nothing until the end of the run, by which time even critics had to fight for a seat. Tourists talk, and if they think they’ve seen something special they’ll tell their friends and strangers alike.
The Edinburgh Fringe website even has a place for people to rate the shows they have seen and more than anywhere else, Edinburgh is a festival where the public decide what’s good and what isn’t.
There are far too many shows for reviewers to see everything and they do their best, often seeing five or six shows in a 24 hour period. So companies holding out for a review don’t lose heart: you can sell your show through word of mouth, intelligent flyering and staying positive.
So here I am on the paid fringe for the first time with my solo work and it’s fantastic to have the opportunity to say "No thank you, I don’t want to read my reviews, good or bad" (and I’ve seen some people’s show ruined by actors believing the good ones). I hope the critics come, I hope they like the show and I hope I don’t hear about it until the very end, when I shall sit down with all the reviews and a large bottle of wine, knowing that it’s too late to do anything about it. In the meantime I will be listening to my audiences and shaping the show around their feedback. After all, they are the reason I am there.
Cabaret Whore More! More! More! 4 to 29 August (not 17) 16.55 (1 hr) Underbelly
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