Whatsonstage.com today announces another new West End media partnership. Following on from our ongoing support of the Live at the Delfont Room cabaret series at the Prince of Wales Theatre and our recently announced six-month initiative with the Arts Theatre, we have teamed up with the Criterion Theatre on a new monthly lunchtime show, “Critics at the Cri”, which will see top-string drama critics and cultural commentators debate recent openings with a live audience of theatregoers.

The first two debates, presented in association with Whatsonstage.com, will take place on 6 October and 3 November 2011.

Following a similar format to TV programmes such as The Review Show, but with the unique incentive of live, on-stage access, Critics at the Cri allows the general public the rare opportunity to see the city’s leading critical voices in action. Each month, the panel will comprise two top-string critics, an independent commentator and a special guest, who will discuss at least three recent theatre openings. The sessions, starting at 1.15pm, will last 45 minutes and will include time for an audience Q&A.

The first Critics at the Cri debate will feature Whatsonstage.com’s own chief critic Michael Coveney, along with Patrick Marmion (Daily Mail), Clemency Burton-Hill (The Culture Show) and former Spandau Ballet frontman-turned-actor Gary Kemp. They will be discussing three productions opening this month: the world premiere of Mike Leigh’s Grief at the National, head-banging Broadway compilation musical import Rock of Ages and the Old Vic revival of JM Synge’s Irish classic The Playboy of the Western World. The November panel will include Toby Young.

Sam Hodges, the Criterion’s new producer, who will chair the debates, said today: “I’m delighted to be launching this series of events, where London theatre audiences and practitioners have the opportunity to contribute to and actively engage in the critical debate. Whatsonstage.com is the perfect partner for an initiative of this sort, with its loyal and articulate subscribers, and I’m very excited to see what discussions we end up having. Critics at the Cri is the perfect opening for a season of events aimed at challenging our preconceptions of the West End and opening it up to new audiences and faces.”

Whatsonstage.com managing and editorial director Terri Paddock added: “Through our Whatsonstage.com Outings and User Reviews on the website, we know both how much theatregoers love gaining unique Q&A access and how knowledgeable and opinionated they are themselves. Critics at the Cri offers an ideal opportunity for them to hear direct from the experts and have their own say offline. We’re delighted to back these inaugural debates and are looking forward to some lively discussions.”

As part of this new media partnership, we have 20 free tickets for members of the Whatsonstage.com Theatre Club to the first two Critics at the Cri debates – plus the concessionary rate of just £5 (normally £7.50) for all other Club members – click here to book your Club discount! Other benefits of the Club, which currently costs just £30 per annum, include advance discounted booking on Whatsonstage.com Outings and Awards, Group Club Night discounts, a joining gift ticket to Thriller Live and a subscription to our bi-monthly Whatsonstage.com print magazine - click here for more info on how to join the Club!


Critics at the Cri is part of a brand new season of events and shows at the theatre, home to Fiery Angel’s long-running Whatsonstage.com and Olivier Award-winning production of The 39 Steps. Running under the umbrella title of “Criterion Presents”, the season also includes:

  • “Stories Before Bedtime”, late-night readings in which well-known actors or writers will read stories or extracts from their favourite books around a central theme. The first in the series – presented by the Criterion with the Reader Organisation and Vintage Classics – will be a Halloween special of ghost stories, held on 28 October 2011 at 10.30pm.
  • ”Lunchtimes With…”, a one-on-one daytime series with leading theatre actors interviewed by either Mark Lawson or Sam Hodges. An interview with Olivier and Tony Award winner Mark Rylance, who returns to Shaftesbury Avenue in Jerusalem next month, launches the series on 10 November 2011 at 1.15pm.
  • The Horne Section, the comedy-jazz juggernaut will play an initial eight late-night gigs on Saturdays from 8 October to 26 November 2011 at 10.30pm.
  • Showstopper: The Improvised Musical follows its Edinburgh Fringe success and West End seasons at the Ambassadors Theatre with three late Friday nights at the Criterion on 4, 11 and 18 November 2011 at 10.30pm.
  • Book Slam, London’s only literary nightclub, comes to the Criterion for one night only on Friday 25 November at 10.30pm, to conclude the inaugural “Criterion Presents” programme.
For more information and public tickets for all “Criterion Presents” events, visit www.criterion-theatre.co.uk.