Festivals 2015: Our review ratings

The show’s the thing…

…but, almost unfortunately, we do require to give every show we review a star rating.

These ratings are often the topic of much debate, but they do have the advantage of helping audiences see at a glance what we think of shows. With so much choice and ticket prices which seem to increase year on year, giving a show a star rating is a useful benchmark of quality (or not).

For Edinburgh Festival Fringe, justFestival and Edinburgh International Festival reviews, we will be using the five star system. Whilst you could argue that it is perhaps unfair to compare a zero-budget one-person show in the basement of a boozer with a 1000-strong multimedia spectacular in the Playhouse, our reviews are still meant to be read within the context of the genre and type of production being critiqued – we would seldom take a show’s budget into account, instead focusing on its artistic merits.

To that end, here’s a rough guide to our star system this year:


A show will be given one star if it is in some way misguided; doesn’t prove to be what it claimed to be; if it’s obviously under-rehearsed or similarly fundamentally flawed.


Two star shows generally mean one or two things lacking – it could be performance, stage direction, lighting / sound etc – the kind of review which should get constructive criticism. Perhaps even a show which is too long / too short.


Three stars would be awarded to a good, solid dependable show – enjoyable, with nothing major wrong with it – ‘if you like the genre, you’ll love it’


Four stars would be the mark of an extremely good show; a highlight. One you would recommend to anyone.


Five star shows are a rarity; something you’ll actually remember when the Festivals are over and one you wouldn’t hesitate to go back to in a flash. Five stars are generally reserved for the truly exceptional.

Note we will not be using star ratings for reviews / reports from the Edinburgh Art Festival or Edinburgh International Book Festival, due to the exhibitions, talks etc being largely subjective and/or one-off events.

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