The Critic Gets a Callback

What readers need from reviewers—if there are any readers left

Whether readers agree with such a critic's taste or not is less important than their ability to know, from the review, how well the play might please them: the sort of knowledge of another's opinions that comes only with longtime friendship, or with its journalistic equivalent, regular readership. The Internet has been blamed for destabilizing such reader-critic relationships, but the destabilizing started decades ago, as newspapers folded and magazines began cutting down or dropping their theater coverage. The Web has given back, virtually, all of that lost space. Anyone can now publish theater criticism. But—to update Agate—it will now take a very clever writer to give it value, and an even cleverer one to get paid for it.

mfeingold@villagevoice.com

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