So, here I am in the final week of Edinburgh…and audiences for This Evil Thing are slowly building, but with over 3,000 (yes, three thousand) shows to choose from, it’s not easy persuading folk to see my show rather than the other 2,999.
In the first week, the List (Scotland’s version of Time Out) reviewed the play and it was a glowing review with not one bad thing to say – but it only received three stars. The star system is, alas, so important in Edinburgh – one star more or less can make the difference between someone deciding to see a show or not.
But something didn’t seem right. So my publicity people tried contacting the List to see if there had been a typo, and when they got no response, I tried getting in touch with the editor myself. A day or two later he replied, and said why didn’t I come for coffee so he could explain things to me (presumably how they award stars at the List).
And so I had coffee with the editor – where he apologised profusely – it WAS a four star review, he said, but it went to press before he could alter it. The reviewer had initially given it three stars as it was the first thing he’d seen and he wasn’t sure what kind of bench mark to set, stars-wise – but the editor said to him, if it’s three stars then I need you to say something nasty in the review. The reviewer said he couldn’t find anything negative to say – and so the editor says, well then it’s four stars.
But too late for the printed edition. However it has been amended in the online version and I have the editor’s blessing to declare it as four stars. What a palaver. Hard to know how many ticket sales that might have cost me.
Then there’s the Scotsman, Scotland’s national newspaper – so important for the festival. They sent a reviewer early on but nothing appeared in the paper. Twelve days later we find out that the reviewer hadn’t even written the review yet, let alone file it. And we’re trying to sell tickets for our play, a play we passionately believe deserves a wide audience.
Finally, with just five performances left, the review appears – this time there are some quibbles and caveats, though it’s generally fairly positive. But it’s four stars! To my detached and unprejudiced eye, however, it reads like a three star review.
So do I contact the editor to ask if there’s been a mistake and is it in fact a three star review?
Do I heck.