by Cameryn Moore
In the final week of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I was a little frustrated about not being able to get reviews, this being one of the main reasons that I had for coming to EdFringe this year. When I finally got a review from one of the main Fringe outlets, I was actually pretty pleased on first read:
As Cameryn Moore makes adamantly clear before the play begins, ‘Phone Whore’ is NOT a comedy. What followed was an incredibly brutal, piercing and thought-provoking commentary on sexuality and the sexual taboos that exist in our society. To say that this isn’t for the faint-hearted would be an understatement: fully-grown adults were running for the door, nervously giggling, well before the sucker-punch of an ending. From a moral standpoint, you may not agree with or condone Moore’s views on how to deal with the more depraved sexual thoughts that some people have. But she is clearly a very intelligent woman, just trying to have a grown-up, buttoned-down discussion about the world’s greatest obsession.
Three stars are better than two, never mind that the review “reads like a four”, according to everyone who I’ve shown it to.
Now. When I get an unjust (in my opinion) review, I do not normally gripe about it in public. I vent to a few select people and then move on. Here in Edinburgh I showed this to Jem Rolls, Clare from Die Roten Punkte, and Elaine Liner, a theatre critic of 30 years-turned-playwright/performer from Dallas. They were just the first three friends who happened to be awake after I read the review. They all said it was shit. They all said strip the stars and use the pull quote. So I did, stapled about 120 cards up—I’m not going through them very fast here—and that’s all good.
I think what our reviewer was trying to communicate with the 2/5 rating was that she found it hard to recommend the show because, given it's explicit nature and hard-hitting style, it is a full-on experience even for a seasoned Fringe-goer.
In some ways this reflects a weakness with the rating system - and with rating systems in general - in that the ratings are trying to communicate both whether a show was well performed, and whether it is recommended. We review our ratings system every year, and this is something we will probably consider again the next time we do so.
However, in the meantime, I think it does look odd there being a 2/5 rating underneath the 'Phone Whore' review, and while we hardly ever do this post-publication, we have decided to increase the rating to 3/5 in this case.
It has been amended on the site.
Because I don’t think audience members see stars as a recommendation to attend or not. I think most audience members, rightly or wrongly, see stars as some kind of attempt to objectively rate a performance’s quality. If something is “full-on”—I’m reading that as “hardcore” or “extreme”—just say so, and let the reader decide if they want to go there.