In the comment section at Playgoer’s last year, when the Critic-O-Meter blog was first launched, I argued against the denigration of theatre criticism into a report card grading system. Most artists I know struggle against the standardized behavior and herding aspect implicit in the notion of “theatre consumer,” so this wannabe Rotten Tomatoes of the theatre world fell off my radar until recently when Isaac Butler’s heavy promotion of his current show caught my attention.
The goofily named Critic-O-Meter wants to be a joke in name only. As I understand it, the creators Rob and Isaac envision their site one day growing into a commercially supported enterprise for theatre consumers. So why would Isaac place his own production of MilkMilkLemonade at the very top of the “A List” of Off-Broadway shows for most of its run? Any credibility the site might have garnered over its first year of grading shows is now suspect by what can only be seen as a blatant act of self-promotion, if not deceptive advertising.
I’m sure Rob or Isaac could explain how their invented report card rating system of theatre reviews has bestowed the highest grade on one of their own shows, but I am still curious how they would explain promoting their Equity Showcase to theatre consumers as an Off-Broadway production.
UPDATE:Rob has changed the category listing with MilkMilkLemonade at Critic-O- Meter from OFF-BROADWAY to OFF- & OFF-OFF-BROADWAY. That’s a fine fix I think. I also think that my reputation as the Ralph Nader of theatre consumer advocacy is now firmly established.