Back in business
It’s admittedly been a while.
My love for all things live theatre hasn’t dwindled, although the opportunities have been more scarce in recent times due to the, no, this is not the place for the C-word.
And sometimes, I’ll acknowledge, life brings other things. I became a Mum – the single greatest production of my life – and then a single Mum, and choosing to go see a show when it means arranging childcare and a later night than usual, means you tend to become more discerning about what you’d like to see.
Then there were the inevitable changes at the Leicester Mercury, for whom I was theatre critic for a whopping 25 years, culminating in the axing of my weekly stage column and reviews being distributed between staff writers. It’s exactly how I got the position 25 years previously, when a freelancer was axed to make way for me. What goes around comes around and while saddened, I certainly can’t complain.
In the meantime, I’ve seen a distinct lack (or rather, not seen) of interviews with cast and creatives of shows being produced locally, barring the quotes trotted out via press releases. I’ve seen reviews with little opinion and even less critical analysis, and usually then even of only the most popular shows, written about by someone who wanted their free tickets. Gone are the days of a dedicated critic seeing anything and everything to increase their own expertise and inform their readers – OK, I perhaps overdid it for a while pre-marriage and motherhood: there was a time when I was out seeing something six nights a week across five counties, from the opening nights of national tours to studio productions of plays in foreign languages. I’m unlikely to say that Richard III in Romanian was one of my favourite evenings, but it was certainly memorable, and it was part of the job.
So why have I kickstarted this site again? Because I believe in theatre, because I believe that “reviews” which don’t offer any constructive critique serve no-one (except perhaps the writer getting their complimentary tickets), because I still believe there are intelligent people who actually want to read a well-crafted critique by a trusted and experienced writer who can inform, educate and guide them as to whether to spend their hard-earned cash on a ticket, or not.
I can’t promise to cover everything, but I do promise that anything you read here is written from the heart of a theatre lover who goes into every single performance wanting it to be brilliant, looking for those diamonds which send you home wanting to tell everyone to book a ticket now to experience the excellence. No-one wants a show to be bad, there is no joy in feeling you’ve wasted an evening, only frustration that your hopes have been dashed and sometimes anger that it ever reached the stage in the first place when so much talent never gets that far.
I hope you’ll (re)join me on the journey.