I had a great debate today with the fantastic PR at the Soho Theatre about the press night for Bunny. I’d wanted to book it in for Thursday 13th October, but Amy pointed out the numerous clashes scheduled already (the Bush, Trafalgar Studios 2, Royal Court, Lyric Hammersmith, RSC and more all open shows that week) and persuaded me that it’d be better to invite reviewers to attend when they could. If they wanted to, of course.
As more and more shows keep opening (and so often open in the same four week cycles), the press diary maintained by the Society of London Theatre looks full however far in advance you try to plan, so it’s increasingly difficult to get all the reviewers in at the same time. But does this matter?
Well, yes and no. No, in that a good review is a good review. If you’re looking to the long term, no one is going to care whether the review came out in the first week or the last week of your run. Critical thumbs up is still a great way to strengthen your profile (be that as a director, writer, actor or producer). But yes, in that reviews can sell tickets. Perhaps. For small shows on the Fringe with limited runs reviews are a useful tool to publicise your show quickly to its audience. Even shows in the West End can often be hurt or helped by them. A high critical approval rating can translate into ticket sales, especially when a few extra seats makes all the difference. Luckily that was my own experience working on Blue Surge at the Finborough. There, with only 50 seats to sell, positive reviews definitely made a difference.
Of course, Bunny has already got fantastic reviews, both in Edinburgh and on its UK tour. But there are still reviewers who haven’t given their verdict, just like there are lots of people who haven’t seen the show yet.
It looks like we won’t be holding an official press night. But you can bet anything that I’ll be urging reviewers to come along as early as possible if they can.