(This was originally written for FringeBiscuit, but I’m keeping it for my own blog)
One thing working at FringeBiscuit has shown me is that being a reviewer is not a job, it is a lifestyle. It’s much more than turning up to a show and bashing out a review, it’s the coffee you drink (you drink coffee even if you hate it), the Mac you clutch whilst running from show to show with your latte in hand, and the frustration you feel when you see books like ‘’Fifty shades of Grey’’ being published when you know that your unpublished (and yet to be completed) book will make you this generation’s George Orwell. No, one does not simply work as a reviewer, one is a reviewer and here is how to become one:
1) If you see a bad show: annihilate it
You’re here to review art God dammit! So when you are forced to endure some university brats fannying around on stage with their ‘’conceptual piece’’ which looks like the concept was to make a show that stinks of more pretension than an Undergraduate Fine Art student clutching their sketchbooks whilst wearing their ‘’vintage’’ jumper and smoking a cigarette then you need to crush their hopes and dreams. Make sure you are as snide as possible, and that the end result is them clutching a tear stained copy of your review, utterly broken by your ruthlessness. Don’t feel bad though, you’re not here to be constructive, you’re here to criticise; you’re a critic daahling.
2) Be inconspicuous
If you’re reviewing someone’s show then it’s important to be as discreet as possible, so no announcing it loudly as you take your seat. What is acceptable is sitting right at the front with your notepad with a blank face occasionally raising your eyebrows before making a quick note. Also, make sure you wear your press pass, you’re a VERY IMPORTANT PERSON and it’s important to send the message to the other peasants in the audience that you aren’t here to simply enjoy the show. You’re here to analyse and judge.
3) Frequent coffee shops with your Mac
Remember, you’re in the arts, you have deadlines and the workload is high and you’re getting paid very little. Consequently, you need to go to the most expensive coffee shop you can find (Starbucks is good, they essentially make you pay extra for opting to sit in and breathe their air) with your Macbook Pro so you can stare out the window and find inspiration. Staying in your house with an instant coffee would be infinitely cheaper, but you won’t able to feel important if nobody can see you struggling to find the right words for your review.
4) Make frequent reference to your Editor
Referring to your Editor whenever you talk to a performer or press officer has the effect of making you feel not only important, but employed, especially if you’re unemployed and working voluntarily. Having an editor will also elicit some sympathy from people, as you’ll be viewed as the tortured writer being oppressed by the big man/woman in the office trying to supress your creativity and turn it into a non controversial piece.
5) Always say you’re a writer
If you’re a reviewer, then you are a journalist and people don’t really like journalists, because they twist the truth and are more like monsters than people. If you are simply a writer then you are more human, you are the struggling novelist trying to pay the bills alongside attempting to finish that bestseller that will break literary boundaries, you are the poor playwright trying to find someone willing to commission your groundbreaking play, you are the impoverished poet who is trying to set the world alight with your words of passion set in trochaic metre. You are an oppressed literary genius merely doing some freelance work untill you can wow the world with work that will most certainly not be panned by reviewers.