Yes, yes, we all hate star ratings. The critics don't like them because it reduces our wonderful prose to a series of marks on a page. Artists don't like them because two stars. Punters don't know what they mean thanks to that newspaper that gives out seven stars, ruining the whole system.
Yes, yes, but they are a given. We have to do them. Shut up Vile, tell us what they mean to you.
I gave Puddles five. I would recommend his show to anyone. That is rare (my previous top scorers have always had a bit of an edge. Red Bastard was a five, but comes with a trigger warning). But I usually think a five star does a few things...
Has a point.
Is structurally coherent.
Brings something that I haven't seen or considered before.
That last one is the five star special. In the case of Puddles, it was the exposure of rock'n'roll's self-indulgent self-pity (which he takes and builds into a moving celebration of life and love. And Kevin Costner).
Perm any four of five from the list above. Lucy Ribchester does a good job for Clout. She's not even in my section, but I like her writing. She argues the case for a four star.
This is the tough one during the Fringe. Usually it means: this is good, if you have an interest in the subject and/or company. It is usually me hedging my bets... not wanting to risk praising a show too much, but knowing some people would think it is a four star. Plus, a three star annoys the hell out of performers.
Really, the three star is why we all hate star ratings. It reads as a shrug, even if it is positive.
Take my review of Pole. It is a cool appraisal, rather like the show, but without any enthusiastic adjectives - or negatives. It's actually an oddly dispassionate review... but I think it is a morally good work, because it supports a charity to project trafficked women.
Contrast my review with Sally Stott's. She argues - successfully - that it is a four star show.
Three, four and two stars are all closely related... it is the place where subjectivity comes in...
On that note, I think I'll post. Come back soon for part two...