User reviews: The BEST or the WORST?

By Niki Campbell, Content Manager @ Stagedoor.

I have a love-hate relationship with user reviews.

Like most people I will use Google to avoid disappointment when choosing a restaurant, Airbnb, hairdryer or hand drill BUT I do it reluctantly and would still rather a friend tell me what a great meal they had at this or that trendy new cafe.

Call me old fashioned…

Whilst I’m sure many people are honest, I’ve worked for enough organisations to know that online reviews are regularly a platform for angry people (who would never spew such hate in the real world) to vent their anger or pursue a vendetta against an overworked waitress who innocently forgot to order their burger without the bun. Sigh.

Though granted, some are funny…

Courtesy of TripAdvisor

I urged my colleagues to tread very carefully when introducing user reviews to Stagedoor. My apocalyptic view of the internet generation delayed this development for some time… I have a reputation amongst the team for being dramatic. I am a theatre lover.

But it seems I underestimated our community!

When we launched The Theatre Journal — A feature for archiving, rating and reviewing your theatre history — the response was overwhelming. We sat in the office watching a live stream of reviews flooding in; some people submitted over a hundred!

Stagedoor getting flooded with user reviews.

The reviews have been honest, thoughtful and really thorough. It seems many theatre lovers keep a list of every show they have ever seen, with comments, stars and memorable people. For some this is even a spreadsheet.

Insightful user reviews on Stagedoor.

I say some, I mean me. I had forgotten I used to keep an up to date spreadsheet of EVERYTHING I saw: Title, Director, Writer, Review, Notable Performances etc. etc. But it’s hard to keep up and not so interesting to look at. On Stagedoor you can scroll through your theatre journal and open the show page to look back over the cast, creatives and description.

I am not alone. People are loving this simple way of archiving their theatre history. And that’s only speaking for those who wish to share their own thoughts.

You can also agree with and follow people who’s voice resonates with you.

(This might sound like a marketing pitch, but that doesn’t seem necessary. This community is buzzing with eclectic experiences. And we are loving it!)

Imagine how useful this would be during a festival!

Camden Fringe is in full swing and the reviews and recommendations are already rolling in.

What I Really Wanted To Say Was… by Shtoom Productions & Don’t Blame The Bankers $toopid by Serafina Salvador.

There are over 250 shows and you can filter them based on date or popularity — determined by the number of little hearts they’ve gathered from fans and followers.

I know, it’s delicious. First and second places are currently going to Filth by Skin & Bone and Helen by Theatre of Heaven & Hell.

The most popular Camden Fringe listings (so far).

Want to knock them off the top?

Get loving.

And remember, if the online review says that the hand drill is terrible; it keeps breaking. It is probably terrible, it will probably keep breaking. But if the Stagedoor user says “This show was the worst experience I’ve ever had”, it might still be the best experience you’ve ever had. That’s theatre!

Camden Fringe runs from Mon 31 Aug — Sun 27 Aug. Check out the full listings on Stagedoor App.