Does this structure seem silly to you? To me, it seems absolutely pointless.
Most theatre productions begin their run in what’s called “previews”. Previews are a series of performances, open to the public, before the show is officially opened and set. Often-times, a show will still be in rehearsals during previews, making changes during the day based off of the reception and feedback from the audience at the performance the night before.
Doesn’t this sound like a much better time for a critic to come and give a review? After all, isn’t the whole point of a review to assess with the intention of instituting change? If this is truly what reviews are for, then why does a critic wait until a show’s opening night, a point at which it is very rare for a show to have the flexibility to make any major changes, to give their review?
The system is downright silly. So, why do we continue to work like this?
Perhaps it’s because critics are more interested in being witty and selling papers (more like gaining traffic) than they are about assessing theatre.
Perhaps it’s because producers, writers, and directors need someone to blame when show doesn’t do well. “Oh, well if it wasn’t for the bad reviews!”
And worst of all, perhaps it is because this is how it’s always been done.
Whatever the reason, one thing is clear, reviews certainly aren’t written or distributed with the intent of helping make better theatre. Which is a good enough reason to stop reading them altogether, and instead, focus on the things that will help us make better theatre.