Theatre ratings

mw03028Until the early 1800s, theatre reviews were simply advertisements placed by the promoters. One of the first independent reviewer was the journalist William Hazlitt (picture from the National Portrait Gallery) who gave consumers a chance of an unbiased commentary.

Pretty much all the major newspaper now tend to rate theatre productions numerically – out of five or ten. This is probably not good for the quality of writing that Hazlitt championed, but it does allow the media and web to offer comparative tables – a review of reviews. Perhaps this is what is meant by the semantic web – we will be able to type in our mood to a search engine (say ‘sad’) and bring up a recommendation of a play or film with seats free tonight…

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