The system explained...sort of
I have reluctantly assigned some shows Must See status ("Love in a Time of Rinderpest") while others were consigned to the bowels of Avoid Like the Plague hell ("How to Cheat") with an equal lack of enthusiasm.
The reason for the stratification is to help offer a key to readers. We'll review 50-some plays in this year's Fringe when all is said and done. Most of those reviews are written hastily (I myself have become adept at writing 100 words of deathless prose in about five minutes), go online almost immediately and will be bunched into the paper and the website.
Without some organizing principal, the result would be a mishmash as difficult to decode as "Past the Size of Dreaming."
Fringe junkies may love pouring through all that writing, comparing and contrasting, but the casual Fringe-goer -- the kind of patron, by the by, that is essential to the Fringe's existence and survival -- will have neither the time nor the inclination to go through endless blocks of gray, separating the good from the not so good.
The labeling of shows is a conceit, a shorthand. The two categories on either end of the spectrum are hyperbolic, and they are supposed to be. I suppose we could offer a more refined system for evaluating shows -- letter grades or stars or something. But...isn't this much more fun? Much more discuss-able?
We'll save the cutting-a-break-to-weeping-playwrights story for another day...
Meanwhile, you can see the most up-to-date listing of Fringe reviews on our OnStage page. These reviews will drift into the paper in the next day or two as space allows.
-Dominic P. Papatola