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Five Star Vanishing Act

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I can ask you something? I had a conversation the other night that rather disturbed me. Not in a grand way, ok, maybe disturbed is a little strong, but it certainly ruffled my feathers. See what you think.

So I was watching a late night show, an improvised comedy show actually. It was one of those Edinburgh shows after which you turn to your friend sitting next to you, shrug your shoulders and say, "Meh, it's Edinburgh" and then try not to think of all the other things you could have done in that hour. One of those shows. Afterwards, we got talking to one of the performers in the show and naturally, the conversation turned to ET presents Fair Trade (please note that ET in this case stands for Emma Thompson, the oscar-winning actress, and not ET the oscar-winning alien). Anyway, we were talking about the show, when a woman who was standing nearby (and who has nothing to do with What's On Stage), overheard the conversation and butted in with, "Fair Trade? I saw that this afternoon. I reviewed it. It's brilliant, I loved it". I don't recall her words exactly, but that's pretty close to what she said. The performer we were talking to nodded politely, and then asked her how many stars she gave our show. Five stars? "Oh no, I wouldn't give anything five stars!" she laughed in the tone of voice that she might have employed if he had asked her if she knows how to vanish. Well I was shocked frankly (please note that frankly in this case is not a person that I'm addressing personally, but an adverb).

Why wouldn't she give five stars to a production if it was good? If it deserved them? I wanted to ask her, but unfortunately, the conversation turned a sudden corner and the opportunity was lost. Therefore, I can only speculate. The only possible explanation I could come up with is this: She sucks. I don't mean as a person, but at her job (although nothing would surprise me here). How can she not realise that five stars is a perfectly valid rating to give a show? What, is she looking for absolute perfection? Surely she knows that it's impossible to find a perfect show? What does one need to do to compel her to dish out five stars? Wrestle a panda whilst knitting a Christmas jersey with reindeer motif?

Let's be honest here, it's not like the world is overrun with five star productions. It's not like every other production is the best thing since Cheryl Cole came on to judge X Factor. There's a lot of rubbish out there. That same night's improvised comedy show is a case in point! Yet this woman, who willingly would sit through an hour of people being less funny than a hernia, somehow deems it inappropriate to award a five star rating to anything.

Let's be fair to her here. We don't know the background behind this bizarre decision. Maybe she once had a bad experience with a five star review - it took her lunch money at school or something - and has been left emotionally scarred. Or maybe she once read a five star review that she didn't agree with (Empire magazine's review of Inception?) or maybe, maybe she's just being unfair.

The sad thing is that a five star review could really help a struggling company. I'm not saying that we deserve a five star review (I'm not saying the opposite either.) But a tiny company performing a show on a shoestring budget provided by the director who had to remortgage his or her home and spend time away from his or her kids to work overtime on weekends in some soul-destroying job to be able to finance a very expensive trip to the fringe? If their show was great, shouldn't they get one? Doesn't she think that a five star review would help them a little? No, it would appear that she doesn't.

Maybe she's simply decided that since nobody is ever going to award her five stars for anything, then why should she give them to anyone else? Well, here's an idea. What if she did perform a vanishing act and stopped reviewing in this manner? I'd award that five stars.


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